What is Behavioral Health?

Behavioral Health is a term that refers to the relationship between behavior and the well-being of the body, mind and spirit. South Central Louisiana Human Services Authority (SCLHSA) offers services to those with addictive disorders, mental health and co-occurring behavioral health needs. SCLHSA’s treatment philosophy is based on the recovery process. The goal of this process is to guide clients in understanding their potential to heal themselves by collaborating with the client, family members and other individuals. This collaboration forms a supportive network enabling clients to make positive changes and manage their behavior in order to achieve their highest possible quality of life.

Addictive Disorders

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease. The cycle of addiction usually begins with experimental or social use. Abuse occurs when social use results in multiple consequences. Dependence occurs when there is a physical  or emotional need for a substance or behavior in order to “feel normal.” Recovery is the process of learning the skills needed to live free of substances or compulsive behaviors. An important part of the recovery process is having a strong support system.

Some commonly known substances and behaviors that people become addicted to include:

Alcohol
Tobacco
Marijuana
Cocaine
Hallucinogens
Gambling
Food
Smoking

Some substances and behaviors are not so obvious because it is more readily available and acceptable. These can include:

Pain Pills
Prescription Medication
Over-the-Counter Medication
Internet

Signs and Symptoms of Addictive Disorders

Drop in school/work performance
Change in sleeping patterns
Dropping old friends
Feelings of loneliness, paranoia and depression
Decreased interest in school, family, social activities, hobbies, etc.
Hanging out with new friends
Frequent accidents
Unable to provide specific answers to questions about activities
Change in personal priorities
Impaired short-term memory
Not returning home after school/work
Possession of “drug” materials
Mood changes (irritability, angry/hostile)
Unexplained disappearance of things in the home
Pupils are larger or smaller than usual
Change in health or grooming
Desire to be secretive or isolate
Decrease in money and cannot explain how money was spent
Change in appetite

Mental Health

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood and ability to relate to others and daily functioning.” Mental health disorders do not develop because someone is weak. Mental health disorders do not discriminate; anyone can develop a mental health disorder at any time. Many of these illnesses can occur in episodes. This means there are times when symptoms are there and times when symptoms seem to lessen and almost disappear. Mental illness symptoms usually worsen if left untreated. Recovery from mental health disorders involves understanding the condition, learning new skills and developing a new way of life. There are many types of mental health disorders, such as:

Anxiety Disorder
Panic Disorder
Phobias
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Depression
Major Depression
Bipolar Depression
Schizophrenia

 

 Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health

Below are warning signs and symptoms that may indicate a need for a behavioral health evaluation for mental health. Signs and symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of condition.

Confused thinking
Delusions or hallucination
Changes in school/work performance
Prolonged depressions (sadness or irritability)
Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
Excessive worry or anxiety
Feelings of extreme highs and lows
Suicidal thoughts
Hyperactivity
Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
Denial of obvious problems
Persistent nightmares
Social withdrawal
Substance abuse
Numerous unexplained physical ailments
Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
Defiance of authority, truancy, theft, and/or vandalism
Strong feelings of anger or frequent outbursts
Intense fear of weight gain