Behavioral Health vs Mental Health | What’s The Difference

The terms “behavioral health” and “mental health” are often used interchangeably, but they don’t always mean the same thing. Mental health pertains entirely to a person’s psychological state, while behavioral health entails not just a person’s state of mind but their physical condition.

Behavioral Health Defined

Given that 70% of primary care patients have behavioral health-related issues requiring behavioral health services, it’s essential to understand the definition.

Behavioral health is defined as the connection between behavior’s impact and the health and well-being of the body, mind, and spirit. This includes a wide variety of healthcare services, including:

  • Mental healthcare
  • Psychiatric care
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Substance abuse prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery
  • Management of chronic diseases

Behavioral health includes the relationship between our daily habits (good and bad) and their effect on physical health and includes mental health disorders.

Ideally, good habits (healthy diet, exercise, and sleep routines) result in the best balance between good mental and physical health.

Conversely, poor habits typically result in degrees of poor mental and physical wellness. Such habits may include negative behaviors such as:

  • Eating disorders
  • Poor hygiene
  • Irregular or insufficient sleep
  • Social isolation
  • Substance abuse (drug and alcohol)
  • Other addictive behavior patterns (including gambling and sex)

With no shortage of contributing bad habits, there is also no shortage in the kinds of behavioral health professional services needed to address their related mood disorders. For example:

  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Addiction treatment, intervention, and substance abuse prevention
  • Management of chronic diseases

A large shortage of providers for these services goes a long way toward explaining why so many people suffering are not getting the help they need. Of the more than 50 million American adults experiencing some form of mental illness today, 60% are not receiving any services for those illnesses.

What’s the difference between behavioral health and mental health?

Although mental health is a component of behavioral disorders, the reciprocal connection between the two is readily apparent. Just as our behavior can influence our thoughts, so too can our thoughts influence our behaviors.

The connection’s clear: people with any mental health issues are more likely to have chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke than those without mental illness. Likewise, people with physical health conditions such as asthma and diabetes report high rates of substance use disorders and severe psychological distress.

The link between behavioral health and mental health conditions – and the way the two are or are not manifested – varies from patient to patient. For example, people suffering from diabetes or chronic cardiac conditions often develop depression and anxiety that is outwardly clear. On the other hand, those suffering from depression or bipolar disorder may have no outward physical signs of illness — making their treatment mental health-based instead of behavioral.

It’s common for mental disorders and behavioral health disorders to co-occur, and for both conditions to afflict an individual at one time. In these situations, it’s advisable for multiple behavioral health professional specialists to address the patient’s respective conditions. This approach is more likely to yield effective, long-term results.

Many poor mental health conditions develop because of biological factors rather than behavioral ones. Influences such as brain chemistry are manageable, while others like genetic makeup are beyond human control. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication can often help alleviate immediate symptoms. Other approaches, including learning how to think healthier regarding one’s mental illness, also help people cope.

InSync Shares Your Goals: Healthier Patients, Healthier Practice

The overall goals of behavioral health treatments are the same as any other branch of medicine: to aid in patients living fuller, healthier lives. Studies have shown that receiving both behavioral health and primary care treatment in integrated settings translates to more effective and longer-lasting results for patients. That might mean continuing to work or attend school – or to better interact with family and friends, take part in community activities, or engage in personal hobbies and interests. 

If you’re interested in a well-structured behavioral health EHR that specializes in behavioral health, take a look at InSync Healthcare Solutions. Its platform is a well-vetted, configurable, user-friendly cloud-based solution with features including:

  • Group therapy software: Includes group scheduling and time-saving group notes. {{cta(‘e8a4921f-7ac5-47ce-aa48-2d105edfd6b7′,’justifyright’)}}
  • e-Prescription and eMAR modules: Securely send and receive information regarding controlled substance prescriptions.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment: Includes HIPAA-compliant documentation, medication dosing, and scheduling.
  • Highly configurable templates and custom forms: With pre-populated fields and automatic verification of patient information.
  • Telemedicine: Launch sessions using HIPAA-compliant software.

For a closer look at how InSync’s behavioral health software system can streamline your organization’s workflows, schedule an informational demonstration. 

Contact an EHR Software Expert

At Qualifacts, we are committed to serving behavioral health, rehabilitative (PT/OT/SLP), and human services organizations by providing top-rated EHR solutions and services. Our team consists of seasoned professionals with hands-on clinical and administrative experience in these vital service areas. We understand the unique challenges you face and are here to assist you in selecting the most suitable solutions for your organization’s needs. Let’s kickstart the conversation that can transform your services. Complete this brief form to get started.