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

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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