Behavioral Health


Integrating Behavioral Health into primary care
Behavioral Health is a branch of interdisciplinary health which focuses on the reciprocal relationship between the holistic view of human behavior and the well-being of the body as a whole entity. Behavioral Health are issues that can have a different outcome by changing "behavior". For example, giving up smoking can lessen the health problems or illnesses associated with cigarettes. Behavioral epidemiology involves the investigation of lifestyle factors that may be associated with disease occurrence. Examples of these lifestyle factors are smoking, sedentary lifestyle, diet, and how these relate to the occurrence of disease in the population Behavioral Health services include but are not limited to prevention programs, outpatient therapy, psychiatric services, emergency and crisis intervention, and foster care services.


In 1978, behavior medicine was introduced as a “interdisciplinary field concerned with the development and integration of behavioral and biomedical science, knowledge and techniques relevant to health and illness and the application of this knowledge and these techniques to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation. In 1979 behavioral health emerged as that aspect of behavioral medicine promoting a philosophy of health that stresses individual responsibility in the application of behavioral and biomedical science, knowledge and techniques to the maintenance of health and the prevention of illness and dysfunction by a variety of self-initiated individual or shared activities".[1]

Behavioral Health is an interdisciplinary science that is used many times interchangeable with mental health in many cases. However, there is a difference between behavior and mental health. Mental health is the psychological state of someone who holistically functions at a satisfactory level. With mental health, the outcome of the diagnosis cannot change by changing your behavior (i.e schizophrenia). It is possible, however, to control it with medicine. Behavioral Health is an aspect of identity that can be changed. Perhaps the term "behavioral health" is less stigmatized than "mental health," because a kinder, gentler name opens doors that might otherwise remain closed for people. Behavioral health promotes the well being of individuals by intervening and preventing incidents of mental illness, substance abuse, or other entities in health.

Illness is an aspect of health that is affected by biological, cultural, environmental, and social factors. How people respond to illness is determined by how people think about the disease. Anthropologist targets behavioral health by understanding culture, environment, and social factors behind a disease prior to initiating a behavioral health intervention. Anthropologist intervention usually involves an ethnographic prospective which informs them of the social, economic, and ecological context of disease in order to affect change.

Anthropological Studies

Indians and Karma – Many people in India believe in a cycle of cause and effect, meaning whatever you do now can affect your future life. This could lead to the belief that each person has to be responsible for their own health. Indians practice prevention, the maintenance of good health, and they are often vegetarians. This Karma theory produces certain lifestyle behaviors that are beneficial to their health. This example highlights the biomedicine approach in Behavioral Health, targeting the environmental factors in association with health and disease [2] .

Tobacco Use in South Asia and Arizona- What does culture have to do with the reason why people use tobacco? Anthropologist Mark Nichter, looks at many extenuating factors and how it affects dependency. Few relationships of dependency he highlights, is the relationship between the soil and the pesticides, how it affects the growth of tobacco. Also, the dependency of the state in terms of all the state revenue it gets from tobacco companies and taxes. So the addiction of dependency is not only at the site of the individual body, but it’s at the site of the earth, site of the political body. This is a more diverse approach to improving behavioral health.[3]

Illness is not simply related to genetic predetermination. Behavioral Health should target patient’s paradigms regarding why and how they are sick in order for effective therapy. The goal should be to restore health by alleviating the need for therapy by improving lifestyle choices.

In this excerpt from the Inner Circle Interview, Dr. James Chestnut explains the truth about disease prevention.

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Works Cited

  1. ^
  2. ^ Alagiakrishnan, Kannayiram and Anita Chopra n.d. Health and Health Care of Asian Indian American Elders.
  3. ^ Nichter, M. and Cartwright, E. 1991. Saving the Children for the Tobacco Industry. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 5(3):236-256.