Mental Health and Behavioral Health? Are they synonymous?

The concept of Psychology has been around greater than 100 years, and treatment has existed since Freud and development of behavioral health and treatment developed in the 1970s and 1980s but has changed significantly over the last 40 years.  Nowadays, people often think behavioral health is synonymous with mental health, but the truth is, there is a subtle difference between them the two. Understanding that difference is the key to receiving the right kind of care. 

What is Mental Health? defines mental health as the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of a person. One’s mental health is complex and impacts every area of one’s life. This includes how the person thinks, the feelings and the actions. A person’s mental health also impacts the decisions they make and how they cope with life changes and stress. It also plays a role in the way the person acts with other people.

When a person has stable mental health, he or she is able to manage day-to-day stress, interact and contribute to the community, work productively and realize his or her own potential.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health includes “subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, inter-generational dependence, and self-actualization of one’s intellectual and emotional potential, among others”. The WHO further states that the well-being of an individual is encompassed in the realization of their abilities, coping with normal stresses of life, productive work, and contribution to their community. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines “mental health.”

What is Behavioral Health?

Behavioral health focuses on habits. It also involves how habits have an impact on the overall mental health and physical health. The term applies to the actual study of a person’s emotions, biology and behaviors and how these impact his or her mental health. The best way to view behavioral health is to see it as a type of mental health study or focus.

Behavioral Health vs Mental Health

Mental health encompasses a number of factors, such as the biology, psychological condition, and habits. The behavioral health, on the other hand, examines how one’s habits impact the overall physical and mental wellbeing.

Behavioral and Mental Health Disorders

It can help to think of behavioral health as a subset of mental health, in that not all mental health disorders are a result of behavioral issues. Some of them are caused by brain chemistry or genetic inheritance. A short list of mental disorders that are not directly related to or caused by behaviors are:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

By contrast, behavioral health disorders result from wrong adaptive behaviors that negatively impact one’s physical or mental condition. Some examples of behavioral health disorders are:

  • Substance abuse
  • Gambling
  • Eating disorders

Behavioral Health and Mental Health – Always They go Together

Even though behavioral health disorders are characterized by unhealthy habits, those habits are often not the root cause of the issue. Frequently, behavioral health disorders co-occur with mental illness. To effectively treat any of these conditions, it’s not enough to simply modify behaviors; you must also consider psychiatric care and/or psychological counseling to address the underlying problem.

Conversely, while many mental health conditions have a biological basis, they can still be severely impacted by your behaviors, in both positive and negative ways. Maladaptive behaviors – such as drinking, using drugs, or overeating – can exacerbate symptoms of a mental health disorder. On the flipside, developing effective coping mechanisms – such as exercising or meditating – can improve both your physical and mental state.

Behavioral Health and YubiHealth Approach

YubiHealth is a whole person approach to mental and behavioral health utilizing AI and emerging frontiers of scientific research in genomics and gut biome to meet the mental health patients where they are and take them to the integrative holistic health journey in partnership with their providers and care givers by a creating a supportive ecosystem that the members can access via tap of their smart phones. More information is available at

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