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Behavioral Health: What Does it Mean for Utah Residents?

Behavioral Health: What Does it Mean for Utah Residents?

Behavioral health is a characterization of how well a person thinks, feels, and acts to their environment. Desirable behaviors demonstrate an adaptability that tends to lead to a greater sense of well-being and life satisfaction. In Utah, however, the term is most often used for the collection of care services offered by the state’s mental health industry.

It’s no wonder that the term is difficult to define. Aside from the nuance of the human condition itself, it’s hard to find a label that fits all the different talk therapy, prescription medications, residential programs, and psychiatric hospitalizations that may be administered to people with dozens of different mental health diagnoses—diagnoses which are themselves quite varied.


The Professional Version of Mental Health

Behavioral health has been slowly but consistently replacing “mental health” among professionals in the industry. The terms mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably, but many professionals don’t like “mental health” because of its association with going mental and with the idea that psychological problems are “just in your head.” On the other hand, the new term is not universally loved by any means, even by the professionals.

Still, this preference can be most readily seen in the naming and branding of practices and provider sites. In the starkest example, Valley Mental Health decided to rebrand itself Valley Behavioral Health as part of a larger organizational change. Because so many mental health providers depend on organizational contracts and referral sources, this branding is often aimed at other health providers as much as the client base itself.


Behavioral Health vs. Psychiatric Services

On a similar note, in most hospitals today, what used to be the psychiatric wing or ward is now called the behavioral health unit. This, too, was seemingly done in response to the mental health stigma attached with “psychiatric ward.” On the other hand, psychiatric care has, arguably, come a long way over the years, decades, and even centuries since the worst practices were first introduced. Moreover, the industry as a whole has become more aware of and more proactive about fighting back against the stigmatizing effect of mental illness.


What this Change means for Utah Health Consumers

Arguably, behavioral health is an empowering way to cast mental health services. For one thing, it’s often easier to believe that one can change their behavior, rather than the underling mental illness. It’s certainly less stigmatizing than a lot of other options, too. The one thing it may overlook is the environment in which an individual lives. A big part of what mental health professionals do is make recommendations for changes to the residence or other environmental factors. At the very least, you hopefully won’t feel tripped up by the name and description of health services you receive from therapists, social workers, psychologists, and/or psychiatrists. Whether you’re looking for outpatient counseling and therapy services or inpatient treatment services, don’t hesitate to get the help from a clinic that speaks to your individual needs and priorities.


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