Behavioral Health Basics

Sometimes going back to basics can move us forward. We’ll help you understand behavioral health, including symptoms of certain conditions. That way, you can check in with yourself and your loved ones.

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The difference between behavioral & mental health

Behavioral health is a broad term that includes mental health, as well as emotional well-being and substance use disorder. It’s a term that focuses on supporting your whole self — because what you think, feel and do has impacts on both your mental and physical states.


Understanding substance use disorder

Substance use disorder is when a person has patterns of symptoms from using a substance they continue to take, despite experiencing problems as a result. A substance can be alcohol, illegal or legal drugs, and even prescription medications, like opioids.

Start with these questions

Everyone can benefit from support

Behavioral health specialists can help you even if you’re just experiencing everyday stress. But to see if it might be something more, consider these questions.

  • Do you find that you’re worrying a lot lately? 
  • Have you felt overly restless, edgy or irritable? 
  • Are you having trouble focusing or finishing tasks? 
  • Are you having difficulty falling or staying asleep? 
  • Are you drinking, vaping or using tobacco more?
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Don't let stigma be a barrier

Stigma is when someone views a person in a negative way because they have a mental health condition.1 In fact, stigma often refers to the negative things we tell ourselves, which can prevent us from getting care. Examples of negative self-talk include:

  • “I can handle this all on my own.” 
  • “Getting help would be embarrassing.” 
  • “I have more important things to do.”

Just like we see doctors for physical health symptoms, we need to see specialists for mental health symptoms, too.

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Common behavioral health conditions


People with anxiety tend to have persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.2 Over time, these symptoms can take a physical toll. If chronic fear or worry is affecting your life, then it’s time to get help.

Get support for anxiety now
  • A sense of apprehension or dread

  • Feeling restless, nervous or irritable

  • Having a racing or pounding heart

  • Feeling you can't catch your breath

  • Having an upset stomach or 'knots'


People with depression have a series of symptoms — including hopelessness — that lasts longer than two weeks.3 There are many reasons for these symptoms, including isolation. Please get help if any of these symptoms apply to you.

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  • Feeling hopeless or guilty

  • Loss of interest in activities

  • Having trouble concentrating

  • Having physical aches and pains

  • Changes in sleep or appetite

Common Conditions

Substance use disorder

People with substance use disorder can’t control the use of legal or illegal drugs, alcohol or medications.4 Quitting is not a matter of willpower or choice. Substance use disorder causes physical and mental changes in your brain. 

  • Feeling you need alcohol or drugs to function
  • Withdrawal from friends and family who care
  • Sudden changes in your mood or behavior
  • Engaging in risky behaviors with consequences
  • Having a high tolerance, or withdrawal symptoms
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Did you know

Substance use disorder usually occurs with another mental health condition.⁵

Common Conditions

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD

People with ADHD tend to have behaviors like inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.6 It mostly affects children, but adults are diagnosed with it, too. You or your child might be more susceptible to ADHD if it runs in the family. 

Symptoms include:

  • Jumping from one activity to the next
  • Becoming bored with a task quickly
  • Struggling to listen or follow directions
  • Fidgeting or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty taking turns, waiting or sharing
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We're here to help

Your care options

Whether you want to talk to someone in person, or virtually from your couch, we’ve got you covered. You can even explore online learning that’s self-paced. Explore all your options now. Get support

Phone + online support

In-person support

Self-guided care

Primary care physician

Mental health guidance for members

Get tips on living a balanced life, hear from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members and see your options for care.

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Recommended reading

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MI Blues Perspectives

Short- and long-term effects of binge drinking

Learn the definition of binge drinking and how it can affect you now and in the future.

Learn about drinking
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What is stigma?

Get to know stigma and how it contributes to poor mental fitness outcomes.

Get the facts on stigma
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A Healthier Michigan

Talking about your family’s mental health history

Understand the importance of being open about mental health and get tips on how to start the conversation.

Start the conversation

The information contained on this webpage is for educational purposes only. Nothing on this webpage is intended to be, nor should be used as or relied upon as, professional medical advice. Nothing contained on this webpage is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. For medical advice, or to receive medical diagnosis or treatment, consult with your health care provider.