Learning the Difference Between Behavioral and Mental Health

Mental health and behavioral health are often thought to be the same things. However, their meanings can’t be more misconstrued as they differ vastly in their very definition or approaches to treatment. Putting it another way, they are like the different sides of the same coin. Understanding the subtle differences between the two is crucial for getting the appropriate treatment for your condition.

Did you know? According to a report by the Maine Health Access Foundation, 7 in 10 people visiting a mental health clinic are there for reasons pertaining to behavioral health issues. For your convenience, we’ve detailed the distinctions between both disorders and the many symptoms of each. Continue reading to learn more.

What exactly is behavioral health? 

Behavioral health defines the relationship between our cognitive habits and physical and emotional well-being. It covers the impact that our seemingly normal behaviors, such as eating, sleeping, exercising, etc., can have on our mental and physical health. 

Engaging in unhealthy behaviors like binge eating, irregular sleep patterns, excessive drinking, and a lack of exercise can negatively affect your daily life. According to the National Business Group on health, behavioral health is multi-faceted. It’s a complex psychological issue that forms an integrated treatment plan for mental problems and drug abuse encompassing prevention, treatment, and recovery. 

If you struggle with behavioral and mental health issues, then get the help you need at the delphi behavioral health group, which provides a comprehensive treatment plan focused on addressing the underlying cause of your mental and behavioral health challenges.

Symptoms of declining behavioral health

Poor behavioral health can manifest itself in a variety of unhealthy and somewhat self-destructive behaviors. It constitutes behaviors that can jeopardize your physical and emotional well-being. Symptoms include self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, social isolation, self-harm, and eating disorders.

  • Substance abuse: It starts as an unhealthy coping mechanism, which might seem effective at first, but it simply serves to exacerbate the issue and ultimately becomes a problem in and of itself.
  • Gambling: Gambling addiction is like any other addiction to other addictive substances. Because of the high levels of dopamine produced by the brain’s reward circuits, researchers think it can encourage people to engage in dangerous activities. Gambling addiction may even lead to withdrawal symptoms if the desired euphoric high isn’t reached.
  • Self-harm: While depression and detachment are typically linked to self-harm, some psychologists believe that a low self-image is the underlying cause of this behavior. An accurate diagnosis of this condition can significantly increase the chances of recovery via an effective treatment plan targeted toward this behavior. However, this is only possible if the doctor can diagnose it without mistaking it for depression.
  • Eating disorders can lead to a distinct set of mental illnesses that root from an obsession with body image and having no control over it. It includes anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating. 

It also applies to less extreme behaviors, such as insufficient sleep or a lack of hygiene, which can have negative consequences on health.

The impact of behavioral health

From newborns to those in their mid-fifties, people throughout the US can suffer adverse effects from poor behavioral health. Studies show that 20% of the adult population over 55 have a mental condition and 2 in 3 seniors residing at a nursing home suffer from behavioral health issues. However, fewer than three percent of the individuals who have been identified with mental health issues are readily seeking treatment. In other words, although mental illness affects the lives of the majority, most of those afflicted remain unaware of their plight or that help is available. 

Mental health

Many factors contribute to a person’s mental well-being. A vital distinction with respect to behavioral health is that a person’s state of mind is the primary focus of mental health. In contrast, behavioral health focuses on how individuals’ actions affect their well-being.

When issues with mental health begin early in a person’s life, failing to treat them may have long-term implications that permeate all aspects of life. An individual whose mental health issues aren’t appropriately address throughout adolescence, may see their symptoms deteriorate with time, making it more difficult for them to reach important life milestones like stable employment and mastering personal financial management.

Symptoms of declining mental health

General signs of declining mental health include sleep issues, social problems, and self-harm. Some of the most common mental health problems are discussed below:

  • Depression. It is classify as a mood disorder that causes a constant melancholic, empty, sad, and heavy feeling among those who suffer from it. Although there are multiple sub-types to it, they all cause impedance to daily life to some extent.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety takes occasional stress above a notch. For some individuals, that sensation of dread may remain and interfere with regular life by producing recurrent thoughts, leading to insomnia, and trouble focusing. It can also evolve into a panic disorder if treatment is delayed.
  • Bipolar disorder: It is characterized by bouts of sadness and frenzied manic episodes. Like other mental health problems, there are variable sub-types, and not everybody perceives them in the same manner.
  • Schizophrenia: It is a rare disorder that causes patients to hallucinate and believe made-up scenarios by making them lose their grasp on reality. Common symptoms include overthinking and delusions.

Mental vs. Behavioral Health: What’s so different about them?

The concept of behavioral health encompasses both physical and mental well-being. It’s a blanket term that intertwines both psychological and physical well-being and looks at the effects cognitive habits have on them. Behavioral health themes and issues don’t come within the mental health umbrella in some instances. However, many mental problems are link with behavioral problems. Therefore, behavioral health practices and theories can help those with mental health concerns. But as behavioral problems don’t cause all mental health diseases, it’s helpful to have behavioral health as a separate entity.

Final Thoughts

Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical, regardless of whether you’re worry about your behavioral or mental health. Treating a mental issue with prescription drugs. While disregarding the importance of addressing underlying behaviors is all too common for healthcare providers. With little or no experience in behavioral interventions. 

However, with the help of a team of professionals. It is possible to devise the most effective treatment plan for your needs. Often, treatment is an integrate approach. Which is an amalgam of medicinal therapies, CBT, group counseling. And other forms of treatment. Remember that a successful recovery takes time, effort, and a network of people willing to support you in your journey. Hang in there; you can do it!


Ethan Robert
Ethan Robert
Articles: 33

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