Breaking Down Behavioral Health

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Behavioral health is the connection between your physical and mental health and how they influence your behaviors. Behavioral health includes things like your eating habits, substance use, family relationships, and more. This article will explain the basics of behavioral health, behavioral healthcare providers, and types of treatment options. 

Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health

In the most basic terms, mental health is one item under the behavioral health umbrella. Behavioral health is more comprehensive than mental health alone. Behavioral health focuses on how your actions are connected to your mental and physical well-being and how that affects your life. In essence, it is the intersection of the health of your mind and your body. 

Because behavioral health is a more inclusive term, it covers situations and treatments that are not often included in traditional mental healthcare. These include everything from marriage and family counseling, addiction and substance abuse treatment, monitoring psychiatric conditions, and managing chronic illness.

Behavior Healthcare Providers

The type of provider that you see for behavior health care will depend on what you're struggling with, and what you need from them. 


A psychiatrist is a certified medical doctor (MD). Because they are an MD, they can give a formal diagnosis, as well as prescribe medication that other behavioral healthcare providers cannot. They are great for behavioral health care because they can look at the intersectionality of mental and physical health. They can see how mental health issues may be related to physical conditions with psychiatric symptoms or keep an eye on the physical effects of mental illness. 


Psychologists are also allowed to make diagnoses, but they are not able to prescribe medications. They do psychological testing and treat mental illness by helping you adjust your habits over time with the use of psychotherapy. 

Licensed Professional Counselor

Licensed counselors cannot diagnose or prescribe medication, but they do provide therapy. Often it is a licensed counselor who does marriage and family therapy and substance abuse therapy. 

Social Worker

Not only can a social worker evaluate and treat mental illnesses, but one of their best assets is that they can advocate for and assist patients in clinical settings. They can help with casework and often work in administrative roles in institutions that treat patients.

Behavioral Health Treatment Settings


Inpatient treatment offers 24-hour supervision and assistance. Common inpatient treatment includes drug and alcohol detoxification and management of patients who are in an acute phase of mental illness. Inpatient treatment is overnight but typically does not last longer than 30 days. 


Residential treatment locations offer long-term care. They are more comfortable than hospitals because patients are generally there for at least 30 days. They provide housing and treatment for patients with permanent mental illnesses or offer drug and alcohol rehabilitation. 


Outpatient behavioral health treatment is the most common option. These include visits either to a hospital, community mental health center, or a private office and don't require any overnight stays. 

Behavioral health is a crucial part of having a full life. If you feel that you are struggling with your behavioral health, have your doctor help you find a provider. Getting treatment for your behavioral health can help restore balance to your life.