Behavioral Health

Why Behavioral Health is Important?

Behavioral health explains how a person’s behaviors affect their physical and mental health. Behavioral health providers (BHPs) are licensed professionals who specialize in identifying behaviors that have a negative or positive impact on your mental or physical health and help you implement positive behaviors.

By identifying behaviors that are compromising your physical or mental health and replacing these behaviors with interventions supported by research, BHPs focuses on a holistic wellness approach that helps ensure a healthy body, mind, and lifestyle.

Behavioral health treatment utilizes a customized approach to help patients manage a variety of behavioral health concerns. BHPs can help individuals with the following concerns:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Addiction
  • Stress
  • Sleep problems
  • And many others

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. There are many ways to treat anxiety and people should work with their doctor to choose the treatment that is best for them.

Cognitive therapy and exposure therapy are two CBT methods that are often used, together or by themselves, to treat social anxiety disorder. Cognitive therapy focuses on identifying, challenging, and then neutralizing unhelpful or distorted thoughts underlying anxiety disorders. Exposure therapy focuses on confronting the fears underlying an anxiety disorder to help people engage in activities they have been avoiding. Exposure therapy is sometimes used along with relaxation exercises and/or imagery.

Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is. Depression is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

Common behavior shifts associated with an improvement in depression include:

  • Becoming more active and getting regular exercise.
  • Setting realistic goals for yourself.
  • Spending time with other people and confiding in a trusted friend or relative.
  • Trying not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
  • Expecting your mood to improve gradually, not immediately.
  • Postponing important decisions, such as getting married or divorced, or changing jobs until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
  • Continuing to educate yourself about depression.

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Substance Abuse

A substance use disorder (SUD) is a mental health disorder that affects a person’s brain and behavior, leading to a person’s inability to control their use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications. Symptoms can range from moderate to severe, with addiction being the most severe form of SUDs. Addiction can be a seriously debilitating mental illness affecting both mental and physical health.

Research has found several behavioral therapies that have promise for treating individuals with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. Health care providers may recommend behavioral therapies alone or in combination with medications.

Some examples of effective behavioral therapies for adults with SUDs and different co-occurring mental illnesses include the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of talk therapy aimed at helping people learn how to cope with difficult situations by challenging irrational thoughts and changing behaviors.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT uses concepts of mindfulness and acceptance or being aware of and attentive to the current situation and emotional state. DBT also teaches skills that can help control intense emotions, reduce self-destructive behaviors (e.g., suicide attempts, thoughts, or urges; self-harm; and drug use), and improve relationships.
  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT): This is a form of community-based mental health care that emphasizes outreach to the community and an individualized treatment approach.
  • Therapeutic Communities (TC): TCs are a common form of long-term residential treatment that focuses on helping people develop new and healthier values, attitudes, and behaviors.
  • Contingency Management (CM): CM principles encourage healthy behaviors by offering vouchers or rewards for desired behaviors.

Stress

When experiencing long-term stress, you put your mental health at a disadvantage as your brain is exposed to increased levels of a hormone called cortisol. This exposure weakens your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick.

stress management

Behavioral approaches to reducing stress include:

  • Manage your time and prioritizing your activities can help you use your time well.
  • Practice relaxation. 
  • Exercise daily. 
  • Set aside time for yourself. 
  • Eat well. 
  • Get enough sleep. 
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. 
  • Talk to someone. 

Sleep Problems

Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. And those with mental health problems are more likely to have insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Behavioral approaches to a better nights sleep include:

  • Set a consistent sleep schedule. 
  • Create regular bedtime rituals. 
  • Get regular exercise. 
  • Keep a healthy diet. 
  • Limit caffeine and avoid nicotine. 
  • Avoid alcohol. 
  • Keep naps short.  
  • Use your bedroom for sleep only. 

The Impact of Mental Illness

mental illness

There are multiple factors that make mental health important. Mental disorders can affect anyone at any age, but most are diagnosed by age 24. While sometimes the exact cause of mental illnesses is unknown, these disorders are generally thought to be caused by genes, exposure to certain chemicals or environmental toxins while still in the womb, physical or mental abuse, or imbalances with the chemistry in your brain.

Health services are available for those with poor mental health or a mental disorder. Behavioral health statistics from the national institute of mental health show that one in five people have a mental illness, ranging from mild disturbances of mental wellness, caused by minor anxiety or depression, to extreme disruptions in one’s life, caused by mood disorders such as bipolar disorder.

Managing Mental Health

Your mental health influences how you think, feel and behave in daily life. It also affects your ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships.

Strong mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health issues. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental health refers to the presence of positive characteristics.

At Quality of Life Medical and Research Center, we provide primary and specialty care for our patients and conduct clinical trials for a variety of sponsors and contract research organizations. Located in Tucson, Arizona, we have a rich history of serving the people of Southern Arizona.

If you’re interested in quality behavioral health care and would like to make your wellness a priority, come feel the Quality of Life Difference. Learn more by continuing to explore our website.