Behavioural health is an all-encompassing term that refers to the scientific study of emotions, behaviours, and biology, and how these different concepts relate to an individual’s mental health, their overall sense of self-worth, and their ability to function in day to day life. Not to be confused with mental health, behavioural health includes more areas of concern that affect an individual’s overall mental and physiological health. A number of factors can affect an individual’s behavioural health; even food has shown to affect outcomes1. As a result, it comes as no surprise that behavioural health can be severely affected by substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder. The drug and alcohol use of a parent is also known to negatively contribute to their children’s behavioural health2. By furthering our understanding of how behavioural health is linked to different aspects of our well-being, we can continue to improve the quality of care that we can provide to our patients.

Behavioural Health’s Role in a Clinical Setting

Although behavioural health has been largely ignored in a clinical setting, there is “a compelling case for integrated or collaborative care”3. By taking behavioural health into consideration, we see an individual’s overall health in a more comprehensive manner than before. With the number of areas that fall under the wider umbrella of behavioural health, healthcare providers can more accurately diagnose issues that are arising in certain areas. The implementation of behavioural health homes has been used to take a more practical approach to improving the physical health of those who are suffering from mental illnesses4. In these homes, through monitoring behavioural health, healthcare providers are more easily able to screen for other diseases which may be affecting the patient, and in doing so deliver more comprehensive care.

The Integration of Behavioural Health and Medical Care

Integrating medical and behavioural healthcare is also thought to be a more well-rounded, comprehensive method to approach these complex issues. One such study concluded that “[in order to] understand this new paradigm of behavioural health care, it is first necessary to appreciate the primacy of mental disorders and psychosocial stresses as determinants of medical utilization and health care outcomes.”5 Through a better understanding of the areas that fall under the wider umbrella of behavioural health, the better we will be equipped in dealing with them. Some research has been conducted to show the benefits of integrating behavioural health into a healthcare system and offering a more well-rounded approach to treatment. One such study found that the “integration of routine outcomes measurement into the delivery of care resulted in a number of apparent benefits.”6 These benefits included assisting at risk cases, and helping to properly assess patients for risk levels in order to determine appropriate levels of care.

Technological Applications of Behavioural Health Treatment

Telemental health treatment, the use of technology in implementing mental health treatment, is beginning to enter the discussion surrounding behavioural health. With the rise of smartphones, the opportunities to deliver mental health treatment through this new medium has opened up a whole new world of opportunities.7 This exciting new development has meant that it is now possible to offer treatment to those who are not in the immediate geographic location, or cannot travel to the treatment centre.

Treating the Whole Problem

If a healthcare provider is skilled in integrating behavioural health into their treatment program, then it enables them to offer a more comprehensive treatment package. Human beings are complex organisms with parts which interplay and affect one another. Our minds, and our behaviours, are no exception to this rule. In doing so, when treating a client a healthcare provider is closer to treating them as a whole.

Why Acknowledging Behavioural Health is Essential to Treatment

Addcounsel recognizes the need for behavioural health to be acknowledged in a clinical setting and integrated into a comprehensive approach to healthcare. We are committed to providing patients with access to innovative, modern, and high quality treatment, in hopes of bettering the lives of our patients and their loved ones. As we continue to understand more and more the effects of behavioural health on substance use disorder, alcohol use disorder, and physiological health, we recognize the need for a more inclusive, complete approach to healthcare treatment. By acknowledging behavioural health as a vital aspect of healthcare, which encompasses many facets of our overall well-being, we continue to pursue the most effective solution to treat clients for a wide range of issues related to substance use and mental health issues.

1 Kaplan, Bonnie J. “The Relevance Of Food For Children’s Cognitive And Behavioural Health.”. Canadian Journal Of Behavioural Science/Revue Canadienne Des Sciences Du Comportement, vol 20, no. 4, 1988, pp. 359-373. American Psychological Association (APA), doi:10.1037/h0079936. Accessed 14 Oct 2020.

2 Snow Jones, Alison et al. “Parental Use Of Alcohol And Children’s Behavioural Health: A Household Production Analysis”. Health Economics, vol 8, no. 8, 1999, pp. 661-683. Wiley, doi:10.1002/(sici)1099-1050(199912)8:8<661::aid-hec481>3.0.co;2-o. Accessed 14 Oct 2020.

3 Collins, Chris et al. “Evolving Models Of Behavioral Health Integration In Primary Care”. Ses.Sp.Bvs.Br, 2010, https://ses.sp.bvs.br/local/File/Evolving%20Models%20of%20Behavioral%20Health%20Integration%20in%20Primary%20Care.pdf.

4 Murphy, Karly A. et al. “Physical Health Outcomes And Implementation Of Behavioural Health Homes: A Comprehensive Review”. International Review Of Psychiatry, vol 30, no. 6, 2018, pp. 224-241. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/09540261.2018.1555153. Accessed 14 Oct 2020.

5 Strosahl, K. (1998). Integrating behavioral health and primary care services: The primary mental health care model. In A. Blount (Ed.), Integrated primary care: The future of medical and mental health collaboration (p. 139–166). W. W. Norton & Company.

6 Matsumoto, K., Jones, E. and Brown, J., 2003. Http://Www.Psychoutcomes.Org/Pub/Outcomesmeasurement/Measurewhatwhy/Using_Clinical_Informatics_To_Improve_Outcomes.Pdf. [online] Psychoutcomes.org. Available at: <http://www.psychoutcomes.org/pub/OutcomesMeasurement/MeasureWhatWhy/Using_clinical_informatics_to_improve_outcomes.pdf> [Accessed 15 October 2020].

7 Luxton, D., McCann, R., Bush, N., Mishkind, M. and Reger, G., 2011. Mhealth For Mental Health: Integrating Smartphone Technology In Behavioral Healthcare.. [online] Psycnet.apa.org. Available at: <https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0024485> [Accessed 15 October 2020].

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