Behavioral health

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"Behavioral health" is a general term now commonly used in place of the older term "mental health."

Like similar terms such as "mental health" and "physical health", "behavioral health" is a basic English term which derives its meaning from the simple association between noun and adjective. Normal variations in the definition of such terms may be expected, given common variations seen in the component words "behavioral" and "health". When the term is employed in the scientific or clinical sense, variations in the focus, if not the meaning of the term, have been observed.

In 1978 the term "behavioral medicine" was formally introduced and described as:

"the interdisciplinary field concerned with the development and integration of behavioral and bio-medical science, knowledge and techniques relevant to health and illness and the application of this knowledge and these techniques to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation."[1]

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 bio-medical 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.[2]

As with many terms used in professional disciplines, the use of the term "behavioral health" may have evolved from its original meaning, and in common practice "behavioral health" is now a term for what used to be called "mental health." Behavioral Health is distinct from Behavioral Medicine in that Behavioral Health focuses on treatment of traditional mental health disorders (as those found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM] published by the American Psychiatric Association); Behavioral Medicine, on the other hand, is a more broadly interdisciplinary field that therefore covers a wider range of mental and physical health-related research topics and applied interventions designed to diagnose, prevent, and treat disorders. Behavioral Medicine uses an integrative approach that takes in to account the clear and still-emerging scientific interactions between biological, psychological, and social processes that contribute to manifestations of health and disease, as defined by the Society of Behavioral Medicine.[3]


  1. ^ Schwartz, G. E.; Weiss, S. M. (1978). "Behavioral Medicine Revisited: An Amended Definition". Journal of Behavioral Medicine 1 (3): 249–251. doi:10.1007/BF00846677. PMID 755861. 
  2. ^ Matarazzo, J. D. (1980). "Behavioral Health and Behavioral Medicine: Frontiers for a New Health Psychology". American Psychologist 35 (9): 807–817. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.35.9.807. PMID 7416568. 
  3. ^ "About SBM". Society for Behavioral Medicine.