Understanding Behavioral Health
Behavioral health is often confused with mental health. While they are similar, mental health refers only to psychological health and behavioral health refers to the physical state of being and psychological state. Prioritizing behavioral health is important for overall health. According to the American Medical Association, 1 in 5 adults has a clinically diagnosed mental health or substance abuse disorder. Many people do not receive proper treatment for many reasons. There are a few different approaches to caring for your behavioral health.
Behavioral Health Integration
Behavioral health integration or BHI is the practice of primary care teams and behavioral clinics working together with patients to provide a systematic care plan. Integrating medical and behavioral care can improve the quality of care and remove the stigmas attached to mental health. This approach is generally very effective and reduces a gap in treatment because physicians and the patient are aware of every aspect of treatment. The American Medical Association lists other advantages of BHI:
- Promoting whole-person care
- Enhancing greater access to long-term care
- Reducing the risk of self-harm
- Increasing positive health outcomes
- Improving patient satisfaction
Behavioral Health Management
In Behavioral Health Management or BHM, the goal is to determine the functioning level of a patient. A diagnosis is not the driving force, instead care provided is working to manage symptoms, according to Interface Behavioral Health. This care plan allows the primary care team to run diagnostics and manage a patient’s physical and mental health through regular check-ins and communication.
Managing Behavioral Health
While treatment plans and working with healthcare providers to create a treatment plan are pertinent to behavioral health, individuals can find ways to manage their own behavioral health. The simplest term for this kind of treatment is self-care.
Self-care is different for everyone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, self-care is taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical and mental health. Practicing self-care daily can improve mental and physical wellness. There are many ways to practice self-care, and these are some ways that the National Institute of Mental Health recommends to get you started:
- Regularly exercise. Even a 30-minute walk can improve mental and physical wellness. According to the S. Department of Health and Human Services, exercise can be used to manage stress, anxiety and depression.
- Eat healthy and regular meals. Nutrition is very important for physical and mental health. It has been proven that foods with omega-3 fatty acids or healthy fats can help treat mental health issues.
- Make regular and healthy sleep a priority. Without regular sleep, people can experience drowsiness, memory issues and health problems. According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, adults 18-60 years old need at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
- Staying connected with those around you can increase happiness and a feeling of belonging. The support system that someone has can provide emotional support and help for life problems that may be contributing to mental health issues.
While these are all great first steps, self-care is personal. How you choose to take care of yourself is important, no matter how it is done.
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