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      4 min read

      What Is Behavioral Health and Mental Health?

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      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, whereas behavioral health entails not just a person's state of mind but their physical condition as well.

      Behavioral Health Defined

      Given that 70% of 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 behaviors 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

      In simplest terms, behavioral health refers to the relationship between our daily habits (good and bad) and their effect on our physical and mental health.

      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 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 disorders. For example:

      • Psychologists

      • Psychiatrists

      • Social workers

      • Marriage and family counselors

      • 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 in need of these services are not getting the help they need. Of the more than 50 million American adults experiencing some form of mental illness today, more than 60% are not receiving any services for those illnesses.

      Watch: The Most Relaxing Video Snapshot of EHR Software

      5-minute InSync Mental Health Software Snapshot Demo

      The point, however, is that while mental health issues and treatments represent one branch of behavioral health, they are not the entire tree.

      A diagram explaining behavioral health and its relation to mental health with marriage and family counseling, substance abuse treatment and chronic disease management. Behavioral Health vs Mental Health

      Although mental health is but one component of behavioral health, the reciprocal connection of the two is readily apparent. That is, just as our behavior can influence our thoughts, so too can our thoughts influence our behaviors.

      To illustrate, people with any mental health problems are more likely to have chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke than those without mental illness, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report. Likewise, people with physical health conditions such as asthma and diabetes report high rates of substance use disorders and serious psychological distress, according to a data review by the SAMHSA Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.

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

      It’s not uncommon, of course, for mental and behavioral health disorders to co-occur – for both conditions to afflict an individual at one time. In such situations, it’s advisable for multiple behavioral health professional specialists to address the patient’s respective conditions, as treating one condition without treating the other – despite the exponential costs – is unlikely to yield effective, long-term results.

      Many mental health conditions develop not because of behavioral factors but biological ones. Some factors such as brain chemistry are manageable, while others such as genetic makeup are beyond our control. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and medicine can often help alleviate immediate symptoms, but so too can something as simple as learning how to think in healthier ways with regards to one’s mental illness.

      InSync Shares Your Goals: Healthier Patients, Healthier Practice

      schedule a demo with insync healthcare solutionsThe 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, participate in community activities, or engage in personal hobbies and interests.

      If you are interested in well-structured EMR/EHR software that specializes in behavioral health, you should know that InSync Healthcare Solutions has a superior, configurable, user-friendly, cloud-based solution with features that include:

      • Group therapy software: Includes group scheduling and time-saving group notes

      • 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 our behavioral health software system can streamline your organization's workflows, schedule a demo now with one of our experts. We're happy to answer questions and explain how our system can save you time and money. 

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