Behavioral Health Services

Many people struggling with behavioral health issues don’t get the treatment they need. Some of the symptoms that indicate a need for care include a reduced ability to concentrate, extreme mood changes and feelings of withdrawal from friends or family.

Despite parity laws, access to care remains a challenge due to shortages of providers. This is why many medical practices are integrating Behavioral Health Services into their primary care settings.

Behavioral Health

Behavioral health practices encompass a large number of services that can include counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), alternative medicines and more. Unlike mental health, behavioral health addresses daily lifestyle choices and habits that influence overall wellness.

These can include dietary, exercise and drinking habits and can also extend to psychiatric conditions and marriage and family therapy. For every 10 people who visit a doctor, seven will see a provider for reasons related to behavioral health.

Behavioral health isn’t just for those dealing with mental illnesses and substance abuse, but can be beneficial to anyone struggling with emotional changes or difficulty handling life’s ups and downs. Those looking for a therapist can choose from a wide variety of licensed professionals including psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, counselors and social workers. They can also find support groups, peer support specialists, recovery coaches and more. Behavioral health is becoming more integrated with medical care, too. Often, primary care teams and behavioral clinicians work together to treat patients as a team.


Behavioral health services are ways to promote positive mental well-being and treat mental illness and substance use issues. They include counseling and more specialized psychotherapies that focus on changing behaviors, thoughts, emotions and how people see and understand situations. They also can involve medications to help manage symptoms that interfere with everyday life.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health issues, including serious disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They can order or perform a wide range of medical laboratory and psychological tests, and they can use the data to diagnose and work with patients to develop treatment plans.

Psychiatrists often work with psychologists and nurses who are trained in psychotherapy, as well as social workers, case managers, addiction counselors and marriage and family therapists. Increasingly, integrated behavioral health care is being delivered along with other healthcare in primary care settings.

Substance Abuse

Drug abuse is often a sign of an underlying mental health disorder, such as depression or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Difficult family situations and a lack of familial support can also contribute to the development of addiction.

Treatment options for substance abuse include withdrawal management, residential and outpatient programs and medication-assisted treatment. The goal of substance abuse treatment is to help individuals overcome their dependency on drugs or alcohol and learn healthy coping strategies for dealing with stress, pain and other challenging emotions.

Behavioral health services are available at many locations throughout the city. Some are provided by community health centers, while others may be provided through city, state and federal grants. To find out which services are available to you, visit GetCoveredNYC, which can connect you with free or low-cost behavioral health care based on your eligibility for NYC Care or other health insurance programs. You can also call the 24/7 helpline for assistance and referrals to local treatment services.

Mental Health

Mental health is an area that focuses on a person’s state of mind. It can include symptoms such as extreme mood changes or a reduced ability to focus. Some people who have mental illnesses also have substance abuse problems or problems with food, sleep and community engagement.

Many behavioral health services involve talk therapy and medicines. Depending on how serious the condition is, some people may need to stay in a psychiatric hospital.

Behavioral health is deeply connected to physical health outcomes and social and economic well-being. Those who have mental disorders are more likely to have chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. They are also more likely to have unstable employment and be involved with the criminal justice system.

Behavioral health services can be provided in different ways, including through workplace wellbeing programs, community organizations and local government. There is also a national toll-free help line, 988, which provides free and confidential crisis counseling, support and information in English and Spanish over the phone, online and through text and chat.

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