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There tends to be some dilemma that happens when people try to differentiate between the concepts of emotional and mental health. A few issues arise, one being that people see no difference between emotional and mental health. Second, some people tend to minimize the importance of one over the other. This generally occurs when an individual considers emotional health to be less impactful than mental health. Lastly, others ignore the inherent correlation between the two.

The good news is that these three dilemmas can be addressed point by point quite succinctly. First, emotional health and mental health are two very different aspects of an individual’s overall state of being. Next, neither emotional health nor mental health holds more impact or importance over the other for an individual’s cognitive or behavioral well-being. Lastly, while different, there is no doubt that emotional health can have a major impact on one’s mental health and vice versa.

Understanding the difference between emotional and mental health is the first step in either taking authority over personal well-being or in being an advocate for helping a loved one with their emotional or mental state of being. Ultimately knowing the ins and outs of emotional and mental health can equate to knowing what to do to improve both states of health.

Differentiating Emotional and Mental Health

The best way to start differentiating emotional and mental health is to acquire a foundational understanding of both. From that foundation, a person can see how they both intertwine and exist outside of each other.

Emotional health is how a person both copes with emotions and manages the stressors they face in everyday life. The British Medical Journal also elaborates on this, stating that emotional well-being is “being confident and positive and able to cope with the ups and downs of life.” 

On the other hand, mental health focuses more on thoughts (cognition) and the behaviors that are associated with how a person interacts and reacts to those thoughts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines mental health as “our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.” Some may notice an undeniable crossover of emotional health into mental health, yet not the other way around. This will be discussed further later on.

Understanding Emotional Health

It is important to distinguish emotional health from merely having emotions. Of course, one cannot exist without the other. However, emotional health addresses how a person handles their emotions, not simply that they have emotions. 

One of the best ways to understand emotional health is through examples. Most likely, everyone will relate to at least a few of the following situations. Here are a few examples of positive emotional health:

  • Being able to advocate for oneself and make decisions without feeling guilt or shame
  • Feeling comfortable sharing feelings and emotions with trusted loved ones and friends
  • Being satisfied with the way life is going
  • Having self-worth, self-esteem, and personal values
  • Being able to handle stressful situations without feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling connected to personal emotions 
  • Having coping skills to improve emotional regulation
  • Being able to show empathy and love toward others

Understanding Mental Health

As previously mentioned, one can see that there are a lot of emotional health qualities that also fall under the mental health category. This is because emotions are greatly affected by how a person uniquely generates thoughts and ideas – especially how a person thinks of themself. These states of being are very cyclical. However, there are still striking differences. 

The following are a few prime examples of positive mental health:

  • Being able to make decisions without being overwhelmed by negative thinking
  • Having healthy sleep patterns, with no insomnia or periods of extreme lethargy
  • Not having physical ailments associated with mental illness, such as gastrointestinal issues from stress or extreme weight loss from not eating
  • Feeling in control of personal thoughts and decisions
  • Being able to communicate without fear of being judged
  • Not feeling anxious or depressed without external explanations

Treating Mental and Emotional Health Simultaneously

Now that we have seen the variations between mental and emotional health, it is now time to understand that both issues must be treated at the same time if an individual is going to experience a successful long-term recovery.

If either emotional or mental health issues are left unchecked, there is a chance that whatever is left untreated may trigger the other issues to resurface down the road. This is why we here at The Phoenix Recovery Center aim to create an individualized recovery plan that addresses the entire spectrum of emotional and mental well-being.

We are not one-note human beings, so we should never expect to recover from one-note treatment plans. The Phoenix Recovery Center treats each client as an individual and takes each issue into account as they customize a treatment plan, including both emotional and mental health. For more information, please reach out to the Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT