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The iconic 20th-century physicist, Albert Einstein, once said, “Human beings, in their thinking, feeling, and acting are not free agents but are as causally bound as the stars in their motion.” Ultimately, the most basic takeaway here is the intertwined nature of the human psyche. Our thinking affects our feelings and our feelings affect how we act. However, when it comes to mental and behavioral health, it is not always as simple as that. 

While mental health and behavioral health are of course intertwined, it is also important to understand that mental and behavioral health disorders can be very different. Now, while many people may not bother with the distinction, this is actually a crucial difference to understand because it can help in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of both mental and behavioral health disorders.

Mental Health and Behavioral Health: Understanding the Similarities

Perhaps the best way to understand the relationship between mental health disorders and behavioral health disorders is in recognizing that while mental health disorders can be categorized under the umbrella of behavioral disorders, not all behavioral issues constitute a mental health disorder. Ultimately, what this means is that a mental health disorder should never be diagnosed based solely on behaviors. However, the behavioral issues that are associated with a mental health disorder must also be addressed while treating the mental illness.

As an example, let us look at the world of anxiety disorders. The behavioral health of an individual with an anxiety disorder is intrinsically linked to their mental health. A person struggling with an anxiety disorder may experience feelings of nervousness, fear, and depression. These feelings can inform behaviors such as avoiding certain situations and people, experiencing intense moments of panic, substance misuse or abuse, and isolating away from others.

So, as we can see, mental and behavioral health are completely intertwined when dealing with a diagnosed mental illness. However, an individual’s behavioral health does not necessarily have to have any thinking to do with a specific mental health disorder.

Mental Health vs Behavioral Health: Understanding the Differences

Many factors can affect a person’s behavioral health outside of the realm of mental illness. These factors are known as “external factors.” Ultimately, it is a pretty straightforward concept. The circumstances that surround us affect how we behave.

Now, the following are just a few of the external factors that can negatively affect our behavioral health:

  • Familial factors: Such as an uncaring, abusive, and/or toxic home life
  • Financial factors: Such as an inability to meet financial responsibilities or a continual worry about debt
  • Occupational factors: Such as trouble with a boss or employee or the fear of losing a job
  • Socially discriminatory factors: Such as being discriminated against due to race, gender, or socioeconomic background

Now, of course, all of these external factors could eventually manifest into a mental illness, the formation of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for example, but immediate behaviors associated with them do not constitute a mental health disorder. However, that does not mean that behavioral health problems should be ignored, and when they become detrimental to everyday life, it is best to seek professional help.

Treatment Options for Both Mental and Behavioral Health

The first thing a person is going to notice about someone who is struggling with their mental health is their behavior. This is simply the logical reality of human interaction. So, when an individual’s behavior becomes problematic, it is not surprising that mental health care should be sought out.

A mental health care professional can help determine the existence of a mental illness, or if an individual is struggling with behavioral health issues due to external factors rather than psychological ones. If an individual’s behavioral health is affected by outside circumstances, then those external problems must be addressed. However, if problematic behaviors are associated with mental illness, then such behaviors must be treated as part of a recovery plan.

Some of the best treatment options for addressing both behavioral and mental health is therapy. Therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can start to get to the underlying emotional issues that often cause negative behaviors. Once these emotions are addressed, then an individual can better understand the behaviors associated with them and ultimately work to manage and mitigate them

The Focus on Individualized Care at the Phoenix Recovery Center

As previously mentioned, the best way to determine if issues of behavioral health are associated with mental illness is to reach out for professional help. We here at The Phoenix Recovery Center have specialists and professionals that can both confirm the issues at hand and also create a customized recovery plan that fits each client on an individualized basis.

Einstein also famously once said that we should “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we couldn’t agree more, which is why we value the success of our clients above everything else. For more information on getting professional help for mental illness and addiction, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT