Inside Behavioral Health: Behavioral Health Terms You Should Know Part 2

Tag Archives: inside behavioral health

Inside Behavioral Health: Behavioral Health Terms You Should Know Part 2

Behavioral Health Terms and Definitions

We are continuing our series on behavioral health terms you should know! As mentioned in our first blog, this is by no means a comprehensive list of terms. Our hope is that this list of terms, along with Part 1 of the blog series, will develop a more common vocabulary between consumers and providers in the behavioral health world and beyond. 

Behavioral Health Definitions

Psychiatric Advanced Directives

Psychiatric advance directives specify how an individual would like to be treated if in the future they are unable to decide for themselves. These documents may describe the treatments they would prefer and/or to appoint a surrogate decision-maker through a power of attorney. Creating a psychiatric advance directive can improve therapeutic alliance with clinicians, enhance perceived autonomy, and improve treatment decision-making capacity among people with serious mental illnesses. The National Resource Center on Psychiatric Advanced Directives (NRC-PAD) provides a state by state guide to regulations and also includes appropriate PAD template forms for use in each state where PADs are legally accepted. 1

Peer Support

Peer support services, a primary component of a recovery-based model of care, are services in which individuals who have experienced mental illness aid others in their recovery. Peer support services are provided across a variety of settings and include a wide range of work activities, such as education, mentoring, case management, research support, and vocational support. 2

Psycho-social Rehabilitation (PSR)

Psycho-social rehabilitation helps people develop social, emotional and intellectual skills to live happily with the smallest amount of professional assistance they can manage. Psychosocial rehabilitation uses two strategies for intervention: learning coping skills so that they are more successful handling a stressful environment and developing resources that reduce future stressors. Treatments can include medication management, psychological support, family counseling, vocational and independent living training, housing, job coaching, educational aide and social support. 3

Integrated Care

Integrated Care combines primary healthcare and mental healthcare in one setting. Integrated Care blends the expertise of mental health, substance use, and primary care clinicians, with feedback from patients and caregivers. Coordinating primary care and mental health care can help address the physical health problems of people with serious mental illnesses. 4

Case Management

Case management helps people arrange for appropriate services and support. A case manager coordinates mental health, social work, educational, health, vocational, transportation, advocacy, respite care, and recreational services, as needed. 5

Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)

SBIRT is an approach to delivering early intervention and treatment to people with substance use disorders and those at risk of developing these disorders. Screening assesses the severity of substance use and identifies the appropriate level of treatment. Brief intervention increases insight and awareness regarding substance use and motivation toward behavioral change. Referral to treatment provides those identified as needing more extensive treatment with access to specialty care. 6

Value-Based Care

Value-based care is a payment model that rewards healthcare providers with incentive payments for providing quality care to patients. Under this approach, providers seek to achieve the triple aim of providing better care for patients and better health for populations at a lower cost. Value-based care is designed to move toward paying providers based on the quality of care they provide versus the quantity. 7








Inside Behavioral Health: Behavioral Health Terms You Should Know Part 1

Behavioral Health Terms and Definitions

In the world of mental and behavioral health services, there are many terms that get used. Sometimes there is confusion around those words and how they are used. While this list is by no means comprehensive, it covers some behavioral health terms that can be confusing to both consumers and providers. In addition, because there are so many terms, we’ll provide several posts for your use. Defining frequently used behavioral health terms helps ensure a common framework for providing care. 

Behavioral Health Definitions

Mental Health

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps us determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. It’s important to note that mental health and mental illness are not the same things. 1

Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior. These include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. These conditions  affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. 2

Serious Mental Illness (SMI)

Serious mental illness is a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment. This impairment substantially interferes with or limits major life activities. 3

Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment. This impairment could include health problems or disability. Substance dependency is a more severe condition where one experiences physical withdrawal and has developed a tolerance to achieve the same high. People with substance use disorder often fail to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home. 4, 5

Behavior Therapy

Behavior Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves reducing or eliminating behaviors that are destructive, unhealthy or undesirable and learning or increasing more appropriate behaviors. In traditional behavior therapy, maladaptive or abnormal behaviors are believed to be the result of defective learning. For example, people learn to be anxious, compulsive, or inattentive. Behavior therapy is intended to reduce or eliminate undesirable behaviors and increase acceptable behaviors. This is accomplished through the use of behavioral techniques and strategies such as systematic desensitization, modeling, reinforcement, and aversive conditioning. 6


Telemedicine is the process of providing health care from a distance through technology, often using videoconferencing. Telepsychiatry allows providers to deliver services using videoconferencing. Services might include psychiatric evaluations, therapy (individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy), patient education and medication management. 7

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)

The term IDD covers a broad range of disorders and syndromes, many of which are misunderstood by the general public. An intellectual disability is characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and difficulties in a variety of everyday social and practical skills. A developmental disability is attributed to a cognitive or physical impairment that results in limitations in areas such as self-care, language, and mobility. 8

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment combines behavioral therapy and FDA-approved medications to treat substance use disorders. The intention is to provide a “whole-patient” approach to treating substance use disorders. Methadone, Naltrexone and Buprenorphine are the drugs commonly used to treat opioid use disorder. 9

Collaborative Care

Collaborative care is an evidence-based approach to managing mental health conditions. It is implemented across a clinic or provider organization. The collaborative care model was originally developed to manage common mental disorders in primary care settings. However, increasingly, it’s applied to more complex conditions, including serious mental illnesses. New billing codes have made it possible to bill for collaborative care services through Medicare and many private insurers. 10



Mental Health Awareness for more than a Month

Ongoing Mental Health Awareness

May just came to a close, which means Mental Health Awareness Month is also ending. But that doesn’t mean the communication should stop. Or even slow down, for that matter.

Mental Health Awareness month has been observed in May since 1949. It’s outreach has touched millions of people through media, local events and screenings. Mental Health America releases a toolkit every March to support outreach activities during Mental Health Awareness Month. But why not use these tools to educate the public about mental illness all year long? Why not talk about the fact that 18.1% of Americans suffer from depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? Why not continue talking about suicide to help reduce the stigma associated with it?

Mental Health Awareness Tools

To help you spread the word about mental health awareness, we have compiled several tools and resources for you.

Mental Health Resources

Mental Health America’s 2019 Mental Health Awareness Toolkit

Facts to Share to Raise Mental Health Awareness

Pre-written Messages to Share on Social Media

Infographics and More Social Media Messaging

Suicide Prevention Facts and Resoures

Warning Signs and Risk of Suicide

Important Dates for Mental Health Awareness

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day

Mental Illness Awareness Week is the first week of October

Tips for Mental Wellness

Mental health is not prejudiced. It affects the world as a whole regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or social background. Psychology Today created a list of ways to encourage people to live in a manner promoting mental wellness. Here are some of their healthy mind tips you can share:

  • Get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
  • Avoid unhealthy foods, such as sugars, greasy foods, salts, processed foods and saturated fats.
  • Consume more whole grains, greens, unprocessed foods, lean meats and unsaturated fats.
  • Drink at least 3 liters of water per day.
  • Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Stay away from toxic thoughts, toxic people, and toxic conversations.
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation on a daily basis.
  • Learn how to manage your stress.
  • Stay present in your daily relationships.
  • Avoid “screen time” and engage in more “in person time”.
  • Take time for yourself every day.

Spread the Word about Mental Health

Whether your outreach takes place on social media, your blog, your local paper or in your clinic, generating awareness about mental illness should be an ongoing effort. Help others recognize 20% of us will experience a severe mental health disorder at some point in our lifetime. That is one out of every five of us. You can help by keeping the conversation going. Try using hashtags in your online communication to spread the word:







At Patagonia Health we are raising our voices to fight the stigma against mental illness. Help us by speaking up or sharing this post.

If you liked this blog, you might also like: 

Inside Behavioral Health: 8 Signs of Mental Illness

Inside Behavioral Health: Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Inside Behavioral Health: The Science of Substance Use Disorder

Inside Behavioral Health: Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Suicide Prevention and Awareness

Did you know suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States? Suicide is complicated. Tragic. But most of all, it’s often preventable. A critical starting point is suicide awareness. Knowing the warning signs, methods for prevention and where to go for help or resources. Additionally, it is crucial any suicidal talk or behavior be taken seriously. It’s not just a warning sign the person is thinking about suicide. It’s a cry for help.

Suicide Warning Signs

Suicide rates are on the rise. They’ve increased more than 30% since 1999. In 2017, more than 47,000 American lives were lost. However, many of these lives could have been saved had the warning signs been identified and acted upon.

Most suicidal individuals give signs of their intentions. Suicide prevention begins with recognizing these warning signs and knowing how to respond if you spot them. If you believe someone is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing you care and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.

Signs of Suicidal Tendencies

The warning signs of suicide should be taken very seriously. They are indicators a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help.

  • Making threats or comments about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Claiming to be a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Exhibiting impulsive or reckless behavior

Is there Imminent Danger of Suicide?

Keep in mind the risk of suicide is greater if the behavior is new, has increased or if it appears to be related to a painful event, loss or change. So, if someone you care for is exhibiting the behaviors below, don’t hesitate. Take immediate preventative action.

  • Putting affairs in order and giving away possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Mood shifts from despair to calm
  • Planning, possibly by looking to buy, steal or borrow the tools needed to complete suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication

Suicide Risk Factors

The causes of suicide are complex. For example, contributing factors include mental illness, substance abuse, painful losses, exposure to violence, social isolation or any combination of these. However, research has found more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition.

A person may be at risk if he or she has or exhibits:

  • A family history of suicide
  • Substance abuse: drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows exacerbating suicidal thoughts
  • Intoxication: more than one in three people who die from suicide are found to have been under the influence
  • A serious or chronic medical illness
  • A history of trauma or abuse
  • Prolonged stress
  • Isolation
  • Age: people under 24 or above 65 are at a higher risk for suicide
  • A recent tragedy or loss
  • Agitation and sleep deprivation
Suicide Awareness, Prevention & Warning SIgns

Suicide Prevention Methods

Suicide prevention and treatment are based on the patient’s risk factors. Treatments are prescribed based upon a combination of underlying factors and preventing suicidal thoughts and actions. Suicide prevention efforts aim to:

  • Reduce factors increasing the risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and
  • Increase the factors helping to strengthen, support and protect individuals from suicide.

If a client has a mental health concern, a treatment plan to address the issue will be implemented first. Then, suicide prevention techniques, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), are added. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, commonly known as talk therapy, is a method of psychotherapy helping teach ways of dealing with stress. With CBT, the client learns to redirect suicidal thoughts and implement coping mechanisms. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) helps clients recognize disruptive or unhealthy feelings or actions. This method introduces techniques for dealing with difficult situations.

Prescribing antidepressants can be risky. Research has shown antidepressants to potentially increase the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts in teens. Although it appears this isn’t as likely in adults.

A final, and somewhat surprising prevention technique is awareness among medical professionals. Research has indicated many people who have completed or attempted suicide actually sought medical attention prior to reaching that state. However, warning signs were missed or not identified. Further suicide awareness and education for medical professionals could literally be the difference between life and death.

Help Prevent Suicide

If you or someone you know is in distress, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support. Crisis resources are available for you or your loved ones, as well as best practices for professionals.

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Finally, if you believe someone may be thinking about suicide:

  • Call 911, if danger for self-harm seems imminent.
  • Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. This will not put the idea into their head or make it more likely they will attempt suicide!
  • Listen without judging and show you care.
  • Stay with the person or make sure the person is in a private, secure place with another caring person until you can get further help.
  • Remove objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

Lastly, one of the best ways to help prevent suicide is to talk about it. When talking about it, hashtags such as #SuicidePrevention and #SuicideAwareness further the conversation. Together, we can help save lives.

At Patagonia Health we are raising our voices to fight the stigma against mental illness. Help us by speaking up or sharing this post.

If you liked this blog, you might also like Inside Behavioral Health: 8 Signs of Mental Illness.

Inside Behavioral Health: 8 Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Inside Behavioral Health 8 Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Mental disorders are common and widespread. You might be surprised to know an estimated 54 million Americans suffer from mental illness in any given year. 1

What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a disease causing disturbances in thought and/or behavior. This results in a person’s inability to cope with life’s typical demands and routines.

There are more than 200 forms of mental illness. Common illnesses are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal. 1 Staying aware of the warning signs of mental illness can help you determine whether a client, friend or coworker is in need of help or further testing.

8 Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks

Retreating into oneself and avoiding hanging out with friends or participating in social activities could be a sign of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.

Severe mood swings

Mood swings can not only cause problems in relationships but can also be a sign of mental health concerns.

Intense worries or fears

If these fears get in the way of performing daily activities, then they should be addressed to help the individual make it through a typical day.

Trying to injure or kill oneself, or making plans to do so

Suicidal thoughts are nothing to be trifled with and should be taken very seriously. They are often signs of a mental illness needing immediate intervention.

Significant weight loss or weight gain

Not wanting to eat or refusing to eat entirely are the central symptoms of anorexia nervosa, which is a serious psychiatric disorder. Anorexia often occurs alongside other mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety. Binge-eating and night eating have been linked to schizophrenia.

Severe risk-taking behavior with potential to harm self and others

Impulsivity and sensation-seeking behaviors can lead to risk-taking behavior, including promiscuity, gambling, reckless driving and alcohol or drug use. Before a dangerous situation occurs, it’s critical to get to the root cause of these behaviors.

Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits

Up to 80% of people with a mental illness have problems with sleep. This is frequently seen with different anxiety disorders, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder. It could mean sleeping too much or too little, tossing and turning or waking up a lot during the night. These sleep disturbances can impact treatment.

Extreme difficulty concentrating or staying still

Most often people think of ADHD with this sign; however, in depression, this could mean trouble focusing and remembering things. Similar problems with memory and concentration can occur with schizophrenia, along with difficulty solving problems and slower reaction times. Other mental illnesses have cognitive problems, which can affect daily functioning.

Diagnosing a Mental Illness

Inside Behavioral Health 8 Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Unlike diabetes or cancer, there is no medical test to accurately diagnose mental illness. A mental health professional will assess symptoms and make a diagnosis using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. The manual lists criteria, such as feelings, behaviors and time limits needed to officially classify a mental health condition. After diagnosis, a health care provider can help develop a treatment plan. Treatment plans usually include medication, therapy and, potentially, lifestyle changes. 2

At Patagonia Health we are raising our voices to fight the stigma against mental illness. Help us by speaking up or sharing this post.