BEHAVIORAL APPROACHES FOR HEALTH PROBLEMS
How Can Integrated Behavioral Care Help Persons with Health Problems?
Integrated behavioral care acknowledges the mind's inextricable connection to the body and fully recognizes that what happens to one profoundly impacts the other. Behavior health consultants can use their unique skills not only to address mental health problems directly, but to effect behavioral changes in people with, or at risk for physical disorders.
Some behaviorally modifiable behaviors that contribute to poor health:
- Alcohol Consumption;
- Drug Abuse;
- Unsafe sex practices;
- Poor nutrition ;
- Sedentary lifestyle;
- Failure to seek medical treatment when needed;
- Poor adherence to medical treatment plan;
- Sleep disorders.
There are probably as many smoking cessation programs as there are cigarette brands. Calling 1 800 QUIT NOW can help sort them out. The American Academy of Family Physicians has done some notable work in this area. Their Stop Smoking Guide includes a questionnaire to help smokers determine the reasons for their smoking and their reasons to quit and offers suggestions to identify and control trigger situations. They've also published a pithy one-page sheet in English and in Spanish offering stop-smoking advice, and a list of Medicare billing codes related to smoking cessation.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has developed "A Practical Guide to Working with Health Care Systems on Tobacco Use Treatment" that takes a comprehensive system-wide implementation approach. Two government resources, "Clinical Practice Guideline: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update" and the website Smokefree.Gov, are among the many available.
For more information about smoking cessation, go to PHYSICAL HEALTH PROMOTION FOR MENTAL HEALTH CLIENTS on this website. Many of the resources listed in that section apply to all smokers.
What Are Some Physical Conditions That Are Commonly Addressed By Behavioral Health Consultants In Primary Care Settings
Studies have shown that stress can trigger and exacerbate asthma attacks. Behavioral consultants can help their clients alleviate the stress by teaching the client relaxation techniques and counseling them on how to reduce or avoid stressors.
Behavioral interventions may include teaching the clients stress and anger management skills and coaching them in lifestyle changes like sodium intake reduction, weight reduction and smoking cessation.
Mental health problems may be the cause or, as is often the case, the result of chronic pain. Depression and pain are closely linked. Behavioral intervention may help clients deal with it by using bio-feedback and relaxation training and by working to address negative thoughts associated with the pain.
Coronary Artery Disease
Long-term stress and strong emotions, particularly anger, have frequently been linked in the literature to blood vessel damage and precipitation of heart attacks. Behavioral health consultants can work with the clients not only to address stress levels but to implement lifestyle changes, like increasing exercise, making better dietary choices, alleviating stress and quitting smoking.
Several studies have linked depression to diabetes and though it may not be a causative factor, depression can contribute to the condition by negatively impacting diet, help-seeking and self-maintenance. Thus, targeting depression is an important component of treating the disease. Factors contributing to diabetes, like poor diet and obesity, can also be addressed using behavioral techniques.An informative source for diet and nutrition information is the National Institutes of Health.