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Perhaps the most recognizable and well-known psychologist to date is Sigmund Freud. Now, while many of his psychoanalytic principles have been either abandoned or improved upon since his time, one aspect of his psychology has remained: the emotional/behavioral connection. Better put, in his research, he emphasized the intrinsic link between mental and behavioral health.

Speaking on his theory of the subconscious mind, Dr. Freud once said that “The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool of the subconscious from which it rises.” Now, while the link between mental and behavioral health does not apply specifically to that of the subconscious mind, what does apply is the need to understand how the emotions we feel directly impact our behaviors. Moreover, for those with mental illness, the link between mental and behavioral health may go unrecognized.

What Exactly Is Behavioral Health?

When talking about recovery, it is often true that the discussion of behavioral health takes a back seat to that of mental health. Ultimately, this is because behavioral and mental health are so often intertwined that the “behavioral” aspect is just assumed.

However, it is important to understand that while these aspects of health are absolutely intertwined, there are differences between mental and behavioral health. For instance, sole behavioral health refers to the way in which a person’s actions and habits directly affect their emotional and mental well-being. This brings focus to the external factors in an individual’s life that inform certain behaviors, and thus, in turn, cause those behaviors to affect their emotional and/or mental state.

Therefore, behavioral health can be affected by an individual’s socioeconomic background, home life, work or school situation, and how they are viewed and treated by others. Reacting to these situations is one aspect of behavioral health. This is the way behavioral health translates from a person’s external environment to their internal “self.”

What Exactly Is Mental Health?

Now, regarding the term “mental health,” it is often used as an overarching term for the entirety of what mental illness entails. This is fine, but it also erases the complexity and nuances that exist within the realm of recovery.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers this concise definition of mental health, stating, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.”

One of the most noticeable aspects of SAMHSA’s definition of mental health is how it “affects” and is not “affected.” This is the important distinction between mental and behavioral health. Independent behavioral health affects mental health first. Again, the external actions affect the internal. Mental health is the internal “cognitions” that affect a person’s behaviors. 

While there are some distinct differences between mental and behavioral health, they are far more connected than they are separate.

It is hard to understate how linked behavioral and mental health really areis. Ultimately, all of our thoughts (cognitions) and emotions affect how we behave in the world. For those with mental illness, their thoughts and emotions are negatively affected in some way, often informing “disordered” behaviors. These negatively affected thoughts can arise from genetics, external trauma, or developmental issues, to name a very few.

Now, certain behaviors or habits can also trigger the development of mental health disorders. The primary example of this would be substance abuse. When addiction involving substances develops into the realm of involuntary behaviors, it is a sign that a person’s mental health is inevitably affected. This is referred to as psychological addiction, and it resides in the mind. Quickly, this can trigger the development of substance use disorder (SUD). 

So, as we can see that behaviors can exist outside of mental health, and issues of mental health cannot exist without affecting an individual’s behaviors. It is for this reason that both mental and behavioral health must be treated if mental illness is diagnosed.

How the Phoenix Recovery Center Treats Both Mental and Behavioral Health

Here at the Phoenix Recovery Center, our first goal with every client is to take a full backstory. By doing this, it allows us to learn much more about a person than merely the psychological chart that accompanied them.

Working with each client on an individualized basis, we can create a customized plan that focuses on both their mental and behavioral health. The goal of recovery is not simply to “fix” negative behaviors. It is to get to the underlying thoughts and emotions that affect those behaviors, which is why we work on both.

Dr. Freud also famously said that “Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” Those are the same two principles that we apply every day here at the Phoenix Recovery Center. We love our work, and we work hard to get our clients to love themselves and love the recovery lives that they work so hard to achieve.

If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of mental health and/or addiction, please know that you are not alone. We can help get you and your family on the path to long-term recovery. For more information on how we can help with mental and behavioral health, 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