Category Archives: alcohol and drugs

Why I’ve Stopped Using the Term “Behavioral Health”

by Elizabeth Bowen, Ph.D.
Guest Author


A big part of being a social worker is critical thinking, including reflecting on the language we use to describe the people and issues with which social workers work.


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “behavioral health.” This term has grated on me for a while. The first problem I have is that I’m never sure exactly what it’s referring to.

Photo of white ceramic head with black grid over brain areas, labeled "individuality" "reasoning" et cetera
What is “behavioral health”?




Often behavioral health is used as a catch-all term for substance use and mental health-related issues.






Sometimes it seems to also encompass weight management, nutrition, and other efforts to promote a “healthy lifestyle.” Then there are conditions that are clearly linked to behaviors—sexually transmitted infections, for example—but that rarely seem to be included under the behavioral health umbrella.

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