“Behavioral health” is often used to describe a connection between our behaviors, health and well-being of body, mind and spirit. This includes behaviors such as our eating habits, drinking, or exercising that have an impact on our physical or mental health.
Behavioral health is an interdisciplinary science which is interchangeable with “mental health”. However, there is a difference between behavior and mental health. Mental health is the psychological state of someone who holistically functions at a satisfactorily level. With mental health, the outcome of a diagnosis cannot change by changing one’s behavior (i.e schizophrenia). We may be able to control it with medicine. Behavioral health is less stigmatized, because it is a kinder, gentler name than mental health. Behavioral health promotes the well-being of individuals by intervening and preventing incidents of mental illness, substance abuse, or other areas of health.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the term “behavioral health” referred to our behaviors that prevented illness and promoted health. For healthy living, we were taught to eat carrots before we ate dessert. Later, it began to be used to indicate behaviors that help people manage illnesses, especially chronic conditions. Most recently, behavioral health has incorporated mental health as well. Many mental health conditions are a result of genetic make up and brain chemistry. Medications and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can help. Sometimes, change in behaviors by the person, family or even the community where the person lives, and changes in thinking patterns can help people better cope with mental health conditions.