What is the difference between behavioral health and mental health?

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Behavioral health explores how a person’s behaviors impact their health, while mental health specifically concerns a person’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. Some mental health issues leads to behaviors that impact health, while some

Behavioral health and mental health are two terms that people often use interchangeably because they have many points of connection. 

Behavioral health is an umbrella term that involves how a person’s behaviors impact their health. This includes mental health and substance abuse issues, physical symptoms linked to stress, and health behaviors (Peek and the National Integration Academy Council, 2013). Behavioral health can include topics such as weight loss, smoking cessation, and pain management. 

Mental health addresses our overall emotional, psychological, and social well being. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, other parts of mental health include:

  • How we feel, think, and act
  • How we handle stress
  • How we relate to others 
  • How we make choices

The goal of optimizing behavioral health is to ensure that people get better continuity of care from their healthcare providers. When your mental health therapist, psychiatrist, primary care physician, substance abuse and addictions counselor are all on the same page, then you can receive the best care from all your providers. So although some behavioral health care topics do not always relate to mental health, mental health can be impacted by behavioral health.

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