Let’s Talk About It: Behavioral Health
This week’s questions answered by Laurie Anderson, APRN-C, MSN, CDOE.
What is Behavioral Health?
Behavioral health is a holistic and inclusive term that umbrellas mental and physical health. The term behavioral health is used to describe the connection between a person’s behaviors to the health and well-being of their mind and body. Behaviors such as exercise, eating, substance use, and self-care, can impact physical and mental well-being. Similarly, physical and mental health often shapes behavioral health. Behavioral health encompasses a continuum of prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery support services. Individuals with
mental and physical health issues can benefit from behavioral health principles. Often changes in behaviors or thinking patterns can help people better cope with their mental health and physical conditions.
Are behavioral health and mental health different?
Often the terms behavioral health and mental health are used interchangeably. However, they are not the same in either definition or treatment method. Mental health is a person’s state of being. It can describe how we act and feel. Behavioral health is a far more expansive term that incorporates our mental wellness and how our thoughts play out in life through our behaviors. Behavioral health means engaging in behaviors that help achieve an ideal mental and physical balance. That means exercising, eating a healthy diet, and taking the necessary steps to manage an existing disease or injury.
The terms that we use to refer to aspects of an individual’s health are important because they can impact how a person feels about themselves. Some people use the terms behavioral health and mental health interchangeably. I believe that the term “behavioral health” is less stigmatized than “mental health.”
Using a descriptor that focuses on behavior suggests that one part of our identity, our behavior, can be separated from other aspects of how we see ourselves. Behavioral health suggests that one might choose to have more healthy behaviors, and this may give individuals hope that
their addiction or their depression may not be a permanent part of their lives.
Is Block Island unique in its behavioral health needs?
Block Island is unique in its behavioral health needs. Due to the geographical location and isolation, the ebb and flow of population, and all that encompasses seasonal transitions, Block Island has an inconsistent structure to what it offers. Being thirteen miles out to sea limits the options to avoid isolation or seek peers and resources that might help someone make healthy behavioral choices. Geographical isolation and drastic seasonal transitions can contribute to fewer resources available for healthy options and resources for help.
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