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Behavioral Health Services: Where Should I Go for Help?

Posted May 15, 2023 by John Kasper, M.D.

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You’ve probably heard the term “behavioral health,” but what exactly does it mean? Behavioral Health refers to the emotions and behaviors that affect your overall well-being, and encompasses mental health and substance use disorders, along with their stress-related physical symptoms. Behavioral health conditions can include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, anger management, drinking or drug abuse, traumatic stress and much more.


Because many people who suffer from mental health disorders also have a substance use disorder, the medical community frequently uses the term behavioral health care to diagnose, treat and even prevent these conditions.


It’s estimated 1 in 5 adults in this country have a clinically significant mental health or substance use disorder, according to the American Medical Association. What’s more, the prevalence and severity of mental health conditions among teens and young adults has increased sharply in recent years.


Just like you would seek treatment for problems with your physical health, getting treatment for behavioral health issues is just as important.


Summa Health sheds light on behavioral health, signs and symptoms, what services are offered and where to go for help to get you on the road to recovery. While behavioral health conditions generally have long recovery times and can be complicated to treat, successful treatments exist for most conditions.


Behavioral health symptoms that signal it’s time to get help


Mental health and substance use disorders are real, common and treatable. If you or a loved one is experiencing the following signs and symptoms, it may be time to reach out to a medical professional for help.

  • Prolonged depression
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Losing interest in hobbies
  • Dramatic changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • Inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Substance abuse

Behavioral health services

Behavioral health services include a variety of specialists that can help you better understand and cope with your thoughts, feelings and behaviors to achieve your recovery goals. These professionals work in inpatient facilities, such as hospitals and residential settings, and outpatient facilities, including community mental health clinics and private practices.

  • Psychiatrists are medical doctors with special training in diagnosing and treating behavioral health disorders. They are trained to assess both mental and physical aspects of psychological problems. They can prescribe medication and may incorporate a variety of treatments, including individual or group talk therapy, and psychosocial interventions.
  • Psychologists are professionals with a doctoral degree in psychology and are trained to diagnose mental health disorders, and provide individual and group psychotherapy and other types of therapies. Some may have training in specific forms of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and other therapy interventions. They do not prescribe medication.
  • Professional counselors have a master’s degree in psychology or counseling and are trained to evaluate a person’s mental health and provide individual and group therapy for treatment. They usually focus on a specific behavioral health area, such as substance abuse or marital problems. While they typically do not provide a formal diagnosis, they can help with improving life skills and relationships, while reducing symptoms.
  • Clinical social workers are counselors with a master’s degree in social work, and are trained to evaluate a person’s mental health and provide individual and group therapy for treatment, based on their specific training program. They also are trained in case management and advocacy services.
  • Substance use disorder clinicians have specific clinical training in alcohol and drug abuse, and are trained to evaluate a patient with substance use disorder and provide individual and group therapy. They help with treatment and provide support during a patient’s recovery.

Which behavioral health specialist is right for you?

If you think you may be suffering from a behavioral health condition, it’s important to seek treatment, just like you would if you had a physical illness. Ignoring behavioral health issues can lead to severe challenges. 

A common place to start is by talking with your primary care provider (PCP). A PCP can help assess your symptoms, provide screening and begin treating you for behavioral health conditions. In addition, they can refer you to a behavioral health specialist that’s right for you.

Local mental health organizations, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness Summit County, also can help connect you with medical services. In addition, your insurance company can provide a list of specialists in your area.

You may want to consider getting a few names and facilities to find a good fit for you. Once you connect with a behavioral health specialist, ask them about their approach to working with patients, their philosophy and if they have training in a specific area. Finding the right fit and a doctor or counselor you feel comfortable talking to is an important part of the recovery process.

Learn more about Summa Health’s Behavioral Health Institute and call 330.379.8190 to schedule an appointment for a broad range of behavioral health conditions.

About the Author

John Kasper, M.D.

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