Insight 2: People don’t understand “Behavioral” vs “Mental” health

There is confusion and disagreement about “Behavioral” vs “Mental” health

The statement we tested:

“The term “behavioral health” means the same thing as “mental health.”


23.5% Strongly Agree
25.8% Agree
33.4% Disagree
5.6% Strongly Disagree
11.3% Don’t Know

The terms “behavioral health” and “mental health” are often used interchangeably, although behavioral health is understood to be the broader category that includes physical/mental issues like eating disorders and alcohol consumption. But if almost half of healthcare consumers don’t fully understand the difference, then mental health care providers need to define it for them.

For consideration: Thought Leadership on mental health language

  • Consumers are hungry not only for information but also for context and perspective. Any health system (academic or otherwise), CHC, group practice, nonprofit, or insurer invested in mental health care should spell out terms, policies, and beliefs.

  • Build out the Behavioral Health section of your website. With FAQs, a menu of services, downloadable tools for mental health at home, online chat, and an overview of telemedicine capabilities.

  • Integrate mental/behavioral health into the Patient-Centered Medical Home model. Make depression screening a key feature.

  • Produce videos featuring healthcare providers talking about the importance of mental health.

  • The pandemic has intensified behavioral health issues, and they are unlikely to vanish. That’s why now is the right time for healthcare decision-makers to define their views on the physical-behavioral-mental health nexus. Read a short blog on 3 ways to do this

 Now is the optimal time for healthcare decision makers to redefine their views on the physical/behavioral health nexus.

To be continued

The pandemic has created a new appreciation of mental health and behavioral health. Now is the time to explain their meanings and applications.

Healthcare decision makers, it’s your move.

Contact us when you’re ready to use healthcare communications to solve healthcare problems.