The term Behavioral Health was coined almost 40 years ago. However, over time, the meaning of this word has evolved. Most people use behavioral health as a synonym for mental health, whereas there is a difference between the two.
Mental health deals with a person’s mental state or psychology but behavioral health deals with the habits a person possesses, such as eating patterns, sleeping patterns, the lifestyle choices they make. etc. If a person struggles with a mental health issue, it can be comorbid with behavioral health problems and physical health issues. According to estimates, 70 percent mental health issues exist in correlation with behavioral health issues. Therefore behavioral health treatment centers or services have become essential to combat the disease.
According to a study, around 44 million people struggle from mental health-related problems every year but only 40 percent of these are able to receive treatment. There are several reasons that contribute to people not seeking help for mental disorders. While 60 percent of the people do not seek treatment because of the associated social stigma, others do not seek treatment as they remain undiagnosed, do not have the money, lack the access to a reliable mental health facility, or do not have credible behavioral health centers near them.
Behavioral Health Services
Behavioral health services are not limited to mental health treatment programs. With its evolving scope, the range of services offered has only increased. Some of these services include:
- Mental health counseling
- Family and marriage counseling
- Substance abuse treatment including prevention, recovery and intervention
- Chronic disease management
Understanding Behavioral Health
Behavioral health refers to the relationship between daily habits (good and bad) and how they affect physical and mental health. Ideally, good habits (healthy eating, exercise, and sleep patterns) lead to a balance between good physical and mental health. On the contrary, bad habits often lead to poor physical and mental health.
Based on lifestyle choices made, behavioral disorders might include:
- Living in unhygienic conditions
- Eating disorder
- Social isolation
- Sleep disorder (sleeping too less or too much)
- Substance abuse including drug, alcohol or chemical dependency
- Addictive behavior such as gambling, sex, compulsive shopping, etc.
Why It Is So Difficult To Seek Treatment?
Most people do not seek help for behavioral disorders because they remain in denial. It is difficult for them to accept that they have a problem. Some people believe that it is a choice that they have made and therefore it cannot be called a problem. The reasons for not seeking treatment can be myriad and varied. Some of the other reasons may include:
- Social Stigma and embarrassment
- Fear of getting judged by society
- Not being able to recognize symptoms effectively
- Lack of trust and support
- Feelings of loneliness and hopelessness
What Are The Benefits Of Seeking Treatment?
Behavioral health disorders are complex and require customized treatment, but it is difficult to convince patients to seek treatment. However, knowing about the benefits of treatment can provide the needed nudge to seek treatment. The advantages of seeking treatment are as follows:
- Improves quality of life
- Combats mental illness from its root
- Improves personal and professional relationships
- Reduces chances of complications especially for addiction-related problems
- Improves productivity
- Mitigates risk of medical issues
What Are The Treatment Options Available?
A treatment plan for behavioral health disorder may be a combination of the multiple therapies, the most important of which would be group therapy. Encouragement and support groups provide personal therapy that helps the patient understand themselves and their goals better. Group therapy also provides patients with contacts of others who have or are facing similar problems. Interacting with such persons helps the patient realize that they are not alone. It also provides them with the required moral support to take care of themselves and seek and continue treatment. However, the customized treatment programs require an effort from multiple types of professionals. These professionals may include:
Psychiatrists: These service providers can address a wide range of issues. They deal with psychiatry on various aspects such as adolescence issues, childhood struggles, or substance abuse. They prescribe medications to treat behavioral health disorders.
Psychologists: These professionals have experience in psychology consulting. This also includes clinical psychology. They carry out diagnostic work and conduct psychotherapy to treat the patient’s condition.
Social workers: They assist through government run programs. They work in a variety of fields related to children mental health, substance abuse, and mental health in the less privileged society.
Licensed professionals: These counselors usually specialize in treating patients with therapy. These professionals may focus on specific areas of behavioral health, such as family problems, substance abuse, and relationship issues.
Residential treatment centers: These are inpatient treatment centers where people are allowed to reside under 24/7 medical supervision. The patients undergo a personalized treatment plan as per the severity and duration of the disorder. These centers provide a controlled environment for the treatment and combat relapse.
When To Seek Help?
Behavioral health disorders should never be undermined. They should be identified at the earliest. Behavioral abnormalities have affected lives. There are numerous treatment programs available to treat the disorder.
By Susan Navarez