What is Behavioral Health Care?

Last updated on December 8th, 2022 at 08:24 pm

“Behavioral health” is a relatively new term in the healthcare field and what it means varies depending on who you talk to. Traditionally, the term was used to discuss the connection between our behaviors and our overall health and well-being. But over time, the meaning has begun to change. Today, “behavioral health” is often used interchangeably with “mental health.” If you search for “behavioral health” on Wikipedia, you’ll be directed to “mental health.” But, for some, there are subtle differences between the two.

Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health

For those who make a distinction between these two terms, behavioral health focuses on how a person’s behavior affects their overall well-being as opposed to a specific condition, such as depression. For instance, a behavioral health professional might look at how an individual’s behaviors contribute to their being overweight. Others describe behavioral health disorders as those that result from specific actions, such as substance abuse, gambling addiction, and eating disorders. For the purposes of this article, “behavioral health” is synonymous with “mental health.”

The Scope and Impact of Mental Illness

Behavioral HealthAccording to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 20 percent of American adults currently live with a mental illness. What makes that number even more troubling is the fact that, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 60 percent of adults with mental illness don’t receive treatment. There could be a number of reasons for this: there is still a stigma attached to mental illness, so people don’t discuss it with their physicians; many physicians don’t specifically check for mental health during annual exams; and older adults may see mental health issues as a natural part of growing older and don’t want to create an issue over something they see as perfectly natural.

Types of Mental Illness

Some of the most common behavioral/mental health issues include:


Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting more than 40 million adults. And while anxiety disorders are highly treatable, both through talk therapy and medication, only about 37 percent of those suffering from anxiety disorders get treatment. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, specific phobias, and panic attacks. Many people live with more than one anxiety order.

Depression and Bipolar Disorder

According to the World Health Organization, depression – a condition characterized by feelings of sadness, despair and a loss of interest in life – is the leading cause of disability in the world. Its possible causes range from genetics to other health conditions to a traumatic life event. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings – from emotional highs (often referred to as mania) and lows (depression). The good news is that both depression and bipolar disorder are highly treatable conditions.


Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, make decisions, and manage their emotions. Symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, and difficulty concentrating. Treatment options continue to improve and someone living with this condition can enjoy a rewarding and fulfilling life.

Substance Use Disorders/Substance Abuse

Behavioral HealthPeople suffering from anxiety or depression will often turn to alcohol or drugs to ease their symptoms. It is considered abuse when the amount of drugs and/or alcohol consumed endangers one’s health or disrupts their ability to function normally. Mental illness is common among people who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. The two are often linked, with many people receiving a dual diagnosis of both anxiety and/or depression and substance abuse. According to many experts, almost 50 percent of people with serious mental illness abuse drugs and/or alcohol.

Sunrise Has the Resources to Help You Get Better

Sunrise Services uses a holistic approach to help those living with a behavioral health issue, whether it be chemical dependency/substance abuse, depression, anxiety, early-stage dementia or a more serious mental illness. We understand that each individual is unique and that treating chronic mental health issues is not a “one size fits all” proposition. We have more than 40 years of experience working with people to find the support they need to lead lives of purpose and joy.

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