Behavioral health is the connection between your behaviors and the overall health and well-being of your body, mind, and spirit. For instance, behaviors like your eating habits, your exercise patterns, and your relationship with alcohol and tobacco all have an impact on your mental and physical health.
Behavioral health counseling refers to psychiatric, mental health, family, marriage, and addiction counseling provided by counselors, psychiatrists, social workers, neurologists, and physicians. It encompasses a continuum of prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery support services, all of which aim to transform your actual behaviors (as opposed to traditional talk therapy).
How Can Behavioral Health Counseling Help My Depression?
Depression is a common mental health disorder that negatively affects how you think, feel, and act. It can cause feelings of sadness, loss of interest in the activities and relationships you previously enjoyed, and/or feelings of despair. Depression can also lead to a laundry list of other emotional and physical problems that decrease your ability to function well at home or at work.
The symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe, in which mild depression may be seasonal or situational, while severe or “clinical” depression is usually something that people will struggle with all their lives. Luckily, however, depression is treatable. Depending on the causes and severity of your case, your mental health provider may prescribe medications or suggest lifestyle changes to help you overcome it.
Behavioral health counseling focuses on giving you the tools you need to change your behaviors and your thinking patterns, which can then lead to changes in your life that can help you better deal with or battle depression and other mental health challenges.
For instance, instead of letting yourself get bogged down in a cycle of negative self-talk and shame (e.g., “I’m so useless,” “I’ll never learn how to be an adult,” “I’m a failure,” etc.), your behavioral health counselor may advise you to take a deep breath and ask yourself a few simple questions: “Do I have control over this situation?” “If so, what is a small step I can take to make the situation better?” “If not, how can I let it go?”
This example would help in a few different ways. For one, deep breathing can help lower your heart rate and calm your nervous system in stressful situations. This can help you feel less anxious and more clear-headed, which can help you make better decisions and, in turn, make you feel better about yourself. For another, choosing to focus on the actions you can take to better a situation rather than the negative self-talk that brings you down will often help you to feel more in control of the circumstances, further strengthening your confidence in yourself and your ability to face the challenges in front of you.
This is just one example of how behavioral health counseling can help you modify your reactions and keep your depression from worsening. Exercise and healthy eating have also been proven in many, many studies to improve symptoms of depression. Developing these sorts of healthy behaviors, in addition to fighting harmful ones, can help you feel less depressed and more like yourself.
Behavioral health often crosses the boundaries between mental and physical health. This is because our mental health and our physical health are interconnected with one another in thousands of ways, large and small.
Think of it as a cycle. When you improve your eating habits, you are physically healthier. Being physically healthier feels good—you’re less tired, more energetic, and you have fewer aches and pains. This makes you feel better about yourself, boosts your confidence and self-esteem, and makes you feel more in control of your body and your life.
This positive self-image leads you to make more good decisions. Maybe you start working out more, quit smoking, or drink less. These new good decisions then make you feel even better physically and emotionally. Suddenly, you’re doing better at work, you’re dressing more carefully, you’re spending more time with your family, and so on.
Obviously this is a simplification of how behavioral health counseling works. It can take months or years of counseling to change truly destructive or addictive behaviors. However, this is the basic pattern on which behavioral counseling is based.
With that in mind, let’s consider integrated care. “Integrated care” is exactly what it sounds like: it is a holistic approach to treating your combined physical and mental health in one setting. There are many ways to integrate care, and there are different names for different programs (Collaborative Care, Health Homes, etc.), but they all work on the principle of treating the patient as a whole.
The integrated care model is important because primary care settings (like doctors’ offices) provide approximately half of all mental health care for the more common psychiatric disorders. Additionally, adults with severe mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders tend to die earlier and are more susceptible to chronic physical illnesses than the general population. Conversely, people with chronic health conditions are also more prone to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Thus, offering integrated care in a primary care setting makes mental and physical health care more accessible for these and other individuals who may not have access to it otherwise.
Truly integrated care involves medical and mental healthcare providers working in unison to treat a patient’s medical and behavioral needs while sharing medical record access. Combining primary care with mental health services in this way can reduce costs, increase your quality of care, and, ultimately, save lives. To treat a person, you have to treat them as a whole; their mental and physical health are intertwined and dependent on one another, and they must be treated accordingly.
Family Clinic Near Me in Arkansas
ARcare believes in the power of behavioral health counseling and integrated care for depression, substance abuse, anxiety, obesity, eating disorders, PTSD, ADHD, and more. Our behavioral health services at ARcare include:
- Parenting issues
- Sibling conflict
- Peer problems
- Problems with adoption
- Issues with attachment
- Drug and alcohol addiction
- Counseling for grief and loss
- Problems with interpersonal relationships
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Divorce counseling and support for families and those who are adjusting to blended families
If you need family medical care in Arkansas, or if you are interested in learning more about how we structure our behavioral health services, contact us online or call us today at 866-550-4719 to make an appointment. At ARcare, we “cARe” for you.