When considering the health of an individual, the importance of behavioral health cannot be overlooked. Behavioral health refers to the way in which a person’s behaviors and habits impact their overall health, both physical and mental. Behavioral health is often confused with mental health, and though they are related, they are not the same. Mental health does not have as wide a scope as behavioral health, which considers conditions that are not necessarily limited to mental illness.
Behavioral health services in general focus on improving a person’s overall health and well-being, but the exact treatment that a person receives and the type of provider or providers that they meet with depends on their individual needs. For example, a person seeking help for depression would not follow the same treatment plan as someone seeking help for addiction or trying to lose weight. Because of this, there is a wide variety of services available. It is common for behavioral healthcare providers to specialize in certain areas to help treat people with specific problems more effectively.
Psychologists and psychiatrists both work with patients to diagnose and treat their conditions. Psychologists generally study psychology specifically, while psychiatrists must go to medical school and are able to prescribe medications, which a psychologist cannot do. Instead of providing medications, psychologists frequently help their patients through psychotherapy.
Licensed professional counselors can also provide psychotherapy, but they are generally not able to diagnose conditions. Social workers are another type of behavioral healthcare provider. A social worker often collects information about a client’s situation and connects them to the services that will be able to help them most effectively. Licensed professional counselors and social workers both tend to specialize in specific areas such as mental health and substance abuse.
Behavioral health services do not only treat people who are currently struggling with specific problems. It is possible to identify people who are at risk of developing problems related to behavioral health and get them the support they need before that problem presents itself or gets worse. This is incredibly important because a person’s behavioral health has a significant impact on their physical health, mental well-being, and productivity. Preventing the development or increasing severity of behavioral health problems can help to prevent the development of problems in these three areas as well.