Behavioral Health

Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health: What’s the Difference?

Behavioral health and mental health are similar concepts. However, they have some key differences that can change the approach to care.

Health isn't just about our physical condition — it includes everything from our physical fitness to our emotions and relationships.

This wide view of health helps us see that being healthy means more than just having a body that works well — it means feeling good emotionally and being able to handle our feelings and stress in a positive way.

In other words, our health has a lot of nuance to it.

Take behavioral health vs. mental health, for example. These two terms might sound similar, and some people might use them like they mean the same thing, but there are important differences between them. 

Knowing what makes them different is key to taking good care of ourselves and understanding how to help ourselves and our friends or family when needed.

Why does it matter to know the difference between behavioral health and mental health? Because it can guide us to the right kind of help and support. It's like knowing the right tool to use for a job — it makes the task easier and the outcome better. 

So, let's dive in and discover what behavioral health and mental health are all about and why it's so important to pay attention to both for a happier, healthier life.

Understanding Mental Health

When we talk about mental health, we're looking at how we think, feel, and connect with others. It's all about our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. 

  • Mental health is the foundation for our thoughts, emotions, and how we deal with life's ups and downs. It influences our choices, how we see ourselves, and our relationships with others.
  • Mental health is important at every stage of life — from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

But just like our physical health can have problems, so can our mental health. 

Unfortunately, around 1 in 5 adults living in the US are living with a mental illness — making it all the more important to open a dialogue. 

  • Some common mental health issues include depression, which can make you feel very sad and lose interest in things you used to enjoy.
  • There are also anxiety disorders, which can make you feel very worried or scared about things, even when there might not be a tangible reason to feel that way.

Just like we take care of our bodies by eating right and exercising, there are things we can do to take care of our mental health, like talking about our feelings openly, staying connected with friends and family, and asking for help when we need it. 

Understanding mental health is the first step in taking care of it — for ourselves and for others!

Understanding Behavioral Health

Behavioral health is all about the choices we make every day and how those choices affect our overall well-being. This includes both our physical health, like what we eat and how much we move, and our mental health, such as dealing with stress or how we interact with others. 

  • Think of behavioral health as the big umbrella that covers all the ways we behave and how those behaviors impact our minds and bodies.
  • Unlike mental health, which focuses more on our emotional and psychological states, behavioral health looks at a wider range of actions. 

This can include how we handle stress, our eating and exercise habits, and whether we use substances like alcohol or drugs. All these actions can play a big role in our overall health.

  • Some common behavioral health issues include living with an addiction to substances like alcohol, nicotine, or drugs.
  • It can also cover behaviors like overeating, not getting enough physical activity, or even exercising too much. 

These behaviors can lead to serious health problems, but the good news is that they're often within our power to change.

Imagine your daily routine as a path through a forest. Along the way, there are signs pointing toward different behaviors. One sign might lead to a sunny clearing where you're taking a brisk walk, eating a balanced meal, or talking through your problems with a friend. 

Another might lead to a dark, tangled thicket where you're sitting too much, eating junk food, or feeling overwhelmed without seeking help. The path you choose to follow can lead to very different places in terms of your health.

This doesn't mean making a wrong turn now and then will trap you in the thicket forever. It also doesn’t imply that the solution is necessarily easy or that the journey won’t have challenges. Behavioral health is about recognizing when we might be heading in a direction that's not good for us and finding ways to get back on a healthier path. 

Sometimes, this means asking for a map or a guide, like talking to a healthcare provider, to help us find our way.

Understanding behavioral health helps us see the power of our daily choices and how they shape our lives. By making more positive choices, we can improve both our physical and mental health, leading to a happier, healthier life.

Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health: How They Differ and How They Intersect

Mental health and behavioral health are closely connected, even though they're not exactly the same thing. 

Picture them as two circles in a Venn diagram — they each have their own space, but they also overlap in important ways. This overlapping area shows us how our mental state (how we feel and think) and our behaviors (the things we do) influence each other. 

Understanding this relationship can help us take better care of our overall health.

For example, if someone is living with depression (a mental health issue), they might find themselves withdrawing from social activities they used to enjoy or neglecting their physical health. This change in behavior can then worsen their mental health, creating a cycle that's hard to break. 

On the other hand, regular physical activity (a behavioral health action) can boost our mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, showing how a positive behavior impacts our mental health.

Let's look at stress, a common experience for many of us. 

When we're stressed (mental health), we might cope by:

  • Binge-watching TV
  • Eating lots of junk food
  • Not sleeping enough (behavioral health)

These actions can make us feel worse over time. 

Conversely, choosing to manage stress by:

  • Exercising
  • Practicing relaxation techniques
  • Talking to friends

We can improve our mental well-being and lead to healthier behavior patterns.

The key is to remember that taking care of our mental health can lead to better behavioral choices, and taking care of our physical health can improve our mental state. It's like a two-way street —each affects the other in both positive and negative ways.

For holistic well-being, it's important to pay attention to both our mental and behavioral health. This means finding balance:

  • Allowing ourselves to feel and express emotions
  • Seeking help when we need it
  • Making choices that support both our physical and mental health

Addressing both mental and behavioral health doesn't just help us avoid illness; it also:

  • Enhances our quality of life
  • Helps us achieve our goals
  • Supports our ability to cope with stress
  • Helps us recover from life's challenges.

By recognizing the close connection between how we feel, think, and act, we can take more comprehensive steps toward health and happiness.

Supporting Behavioral and Mental Health

Taking care of both your mental and behavioral health might seem like a big task, but it can be broken down into simple, manageable steps. 

By incorporating some basic actions into our daily lives, we can make a big difference in how we feel both physically and mentally. 

Here are some practical tips to help support your overall well-being:

  • Stay active - Regular physical activity is a powerful mood booster. Whether it's a brisk walk, a dance class, or playing a sport, find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your routine. Exercise helps reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, and it can improve your physical health at the same time.
  • Practice mindfulness - Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or even mindful walking can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calm and well-being.
  • Maintain a balanced diet - What we eat affects how we feel. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help improve your mood and energy levels, supporting both your physical and mental health.
  • Build strong relationships - Connecting with friends, family, or community groups can provide emotional support and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. Don't underestimate the power of a good conversation or a shared activity to lift your spirits.
  • Set realistic goals - Setting and achieving goals, even small ones, can give you a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Be realistic about what you can do, and celebrate your successes along the way.
  • Seek professional help when needed - It's important to recognize when you need extra support. If you're feeling overwhelmed by your emotions, or if your behaviors are starting to affect your life negatively, reaching out to a mental health professional can provide you with the tools and support you need to feel better.

Awareness and early intervention are crucial. By paying attention to the signs that you or someone you know might be struggling, you can take steps to address issues before they become more serious. This proactive approach is key to maintaining good mental and behavioral health.

Finally, it's important to talk openly about mental and behavioral health. Sharing your experiences and listening to others can break down the stigma associated with these issues. 

Open conversations promote understanding and can encourage more people to seek help when they need it. By working together and supporting each other, we can create a healthier, more compassionate community.

Sevita Provides Support for Behavioral Health

As we've explored the differences and connections between mental and behavioral health, it's clear that caring for both is essential for our overall well-being. 

Whether it’s choosing healthier habits, finding ways to manage stress, or seeking support when needed, every step we take toward improving our mental and behavioral health can make a big difference in how we feel and live.

Let's keep the conversation about mental and behavioral health going. By talking openly and supporting each other, we can break down barriers and make a positive impact on our communities. 

To learn more about how Sevita’s companies can support you or someone you care about, explore our behavioral health services.

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