Let’s Talk: Behavioral Health


This week’s questions were answered by Laurie Anderson, APRN-C, MSN, CDOE.

What is Behavioral Health?
Behavioral health is a holistic and inclusive term that encompasses mental and physical health. The term behavioral health is used to describe the connection between a person’s behaviors and the health and well-being of their mind and body. Behaviors such as exercise, diet, substance use, and self-care can impact physical and mental well-being. Similarly, physical and mental health often shape behavioral health. Behavioral health encompasses a continuum of prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery support services. people with
both mental and physical health issues can benefit from behavioral health principles. Often, changes in behaviors or thought patterns can help people better cope with their mental health and physical condition.
Are behavioral health and mental health different?
Often the terms behavioral health and mental health are used interchangeably. However, they are not the same in definition or method of treatment. Mental health is a person’s state of being. It can describe how we act and feel. Behavioral health is a much broader term that incorporates our mental well-being and how our thoughts manifest in life through our behaviors. Behavioral health means engaging in behaviors that help achieve ideal mental and physical balance. This means exercising, eating a healthy diet, and taking steps to manage an existing illness or injury.
The terms we use to refer to aspects of an individual’s health are important because they can impact how a person feels about themselves. Some people use the terms behavioral health and mental health interchangeably. I believe that the term “behavioral health” is less stigmatized than “mental health”.
The use of a behavior-based descriptor suggests that part of our identity, our behavior, can be separated from other aspects of how we perceive ourselves. Behavioral health suggests that one might choose to have healthier behaviors, which can give individuals hope that
their addiction or depression may not be part of their lives.
Is Block Island unique in its behavioral health needs?

Block Island is unique in its behavioral health needs. Due to location and isolation, population ebb and flow and all that encompasses seasonal transitions, Block Island has an inconsistent structure to what it offers. Being thirteen miles offshore limits options to avoid isolation or seek out peers and resources that could help someone make healthy behavioral choices. Geographic isolation and drastic seasonal transitions can contribute to reducing the resources available for healthy options and support resources.
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