mental health vs emotional health

Mental health vs. emotional health are the two hot topics that we often use interchangeably. But, in reality, they are totally different and can be a bit confusing.

Mental health is an important part of our well-being that impacts many areas in our day-to-day lives. Theoretically speaking, it includes three core types of well-being: psychological, social, and emotional well-being. 

Yes. You guessed that right. Emotional health is a part of mental health. This is what many people are unaware of. That said, they use it interchangeably, while they are actually different. 

We can say that mental health is all about how well your mind works. On the contrary, emotional health refers to how well you think and feel from your heart.

We all know everyone deals with some form of mental and emotional issues. As per data, nearly 57.8 million Americans are dealing with mental illness. That means 1 in every 5 adults.

By proxy, this affects their emotional health too. That said, mental health is certainly not a joke. We have to do something to reduce this number.

Luckily, there are strategies to keep your mental and emotional health in check and get a better state of well-being. But first, you should understand both terms clearly.

Let's take a detailed look at mental health vs. emotional health and explore how you can improve them to live a stress-free and happy life. 

What is Mental Health?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of psychological well-being that lets people cope with life's stressful events, recognize their potential, learn and work well, and contribute to their communities.”

Quite complicated, right?! No worries, let’s explain in simple words.

Mental health deals with behaviors that relate to your mind and brain. When you have good mental health, you can deal with life's ups and downs without feeling frustrated.

Moreover, you can think clearly, easily manage your stress, and make smart decisions.

Some of the issues relevant to mental health are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and PTSD. You may have heard of them that these problems usually occur due to a chemical imbalance in your brain. 

Signs of Mental Health:

Some of the signs of a person struggling with mental health include: 

  • Constantly feeling anxious or worried.
  • Feeling extremely unhappy or depressed.
  • Getting negative or suicidal thoughts 
  • Unexpected weight gain or weight loss
  • Excessive anger, rage, or violence
  • Sex drive changes
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Regular crying
  • Reckless or impulsive behaviors
  • Mood changes of highs and lows 
  • Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate

These symptoms are easily noticeable in those who are struggling mentally. It’s best to speak to a therapist or mental health professional if the symptoms are serious and intense. 

What is Emotional Health?

As said, emotional health is one aspect of mental health. It addresses how we process and express our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It's about being aware of our emotions, from happiness to anxiety to stress, and finding healthy ways to deal with them.

Experts say how we feel inside affects how we deal with challenges and things happening around us.

Just like not getting enough sleep or eating right can make our bodies feel awful, our emotions also can get out of balance. That being said, emotional health looks after the matters of the heart

When you learn to recognize your emotions, you can easily find ways to change how you feel about a specific situation or problem. 

Research states emotionally healthy people have a great coping mechanism for dealing with negative emotions. That's why mental health experts advise us to monitor our emotions. This helps us in getting a better handle on what changes we need to make.

Signs of emotional health:

Here are a few signs and symptoms of a person who is dealing with emotional health:

  • Sleep disturbance or insomnia
  • Feeling tired 24/7
  • Change in eating habits or even lack of appetite
  • Isolating from family, friends and colleagues
  • Low energy levels to do anything
  • Constantly feeling guilty for minor things
  • Feeling sad or down even during a cheerful environment
  • Rapid heart rate and palpitations
  • Relationship struggles
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Lack of focus and concentration in studies or work 
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • No interest in hobbies or passion anymore
  • Unexplained headache or body pain
  • Neglecting personal care
  • Excessive anger or violence
  • Substance addiction
  • Sex drive changes
  • No interest in people or things 

If you notice these signs, chances are you’re dealing with emotional health and may need counseling to cope with your emotions. 

Now, let's get to the actual part and clarify your confusion. 

Mental Health vs Emotional Health: What's the difference?

Since emotional health and mental health involve the brain, they are two interrelated concepts. But if you want to understand them thoughtfully, it's important to know the detailed differences.

Let’s break it down. 

Emotional health is concerned with a person's emotional state, such as their level of happiness or satisfaction in life. Mental health is more about problems like psychological disorders, which involve the cognitive functioning of a person.

Mental health is about how our minds work. This includes your thinking, problem-solving, and staying balanced throughout. Contrarily, emotional health is all about understanding and managing our feelings.

i) Cognitive differences: 

In terms of cognitive differences, mental health directly relates to how we think about and respond to a specific scenario. 

For example, mental health can be associated with more intellectual decision-making, whereas emotional health pertains to making decisions based on gut feelings. 

In addition, mental health can be related to how you set up, reason, and use your memories. Emotional health, on the other hand, relates to how well you can express emotions, manage feelings, and cultivate healthy relationships.

ii) Behavioral differences: 

Another notable difference between mental and emotional health is the behavior that goes along with it. People with Mental health illnesses usually show unreasonable and out-of-character behavior. They may include engaging in risky or self-harming activities.

With emotional health, behavior is more influenced by how someone feels than by any actual mental disorder.

Let’s take an example to understand it better. 

Even if a person is not depressed, being emotionally drained can make them cry. This is one of the common indications of emotional distress: Difficulty managing your emotions. 

Without good mental health, your emotions can run wild. On the contrary, focusing purely on emotional health causes mental disorientation that makes it tricky to function normally. 

We can say that despite being connected, one of the two may prosper while the other struggles. 

That being said, a person struggling with a mental health problem may express their issues maturely, and a person with a healthy mental condition might struggle to express their emotions properly. This is how it works. 

In short, when you can't keep your mental health in check, it can have a negative influence on your emotions. 

How to Manage Your Mental and Emotional Health? – Tips

Now, it's time to get a bit practical. 

Similar to how we emphasize our physical health, we must also be alert to our mental and emotional health. This is the only secret to living a happy and content life. 

First things first, work on improving your lifestyle and balance your healthy daily routine. Doing so will keep your mindset healthy and give you some motivation to do things. 

It's like taking care of different parts of yourself to make sure you feel good both in your mind and your heart. 

So, here are some useful tips to calm your mental and emotional health:

  • The first thing you can do is talk to close friends and family about your concerns and worries.
  • Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet to stay fit. 
  • Stay physically active by moving your body often – exercising, walking, and dancing
  • Practice mindfulness by doing yoga and meditation at home. 
  • Avoid smoking or consuming drugs and alcohol as much as you can.
  • If possible, actively take part in different kinds of therapies and counseling. 
  • Practice self-care by getting the proper nutrition and engaging in hobbies
  • Improve your quality of sleep.
  • Help others whenever possible.
  • Set your life goals and take baby steps to achieve them.
  • Try journaling.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Spend time with your pet or go to a pet cafe. 
  • Seek help from mental health professionals if needed. 

Everyone has their own ways. Whatever you find to manage your general well-being, make sure you understand how your mind responds to different sorts of methods.

It can be one thing or a combination of techniques to keep your mental and emotional health in check.

Remember that both mental and emotional health must be prioritized equally for your overall well-being. So take care of them; it will help you live a happier life and sustain meaningful relationships.

Are Emotional Health and Mental Health Connected?

As we explained before, our emotions are also controlled by our minds. Hence, we can't fully separate emotional and mental health. Both have an impact on each other in certain ways. But none of them are reliant entirely on one another. 

That means a person experiencing mental health problems might show healthy emotional states. Let's understand this by taking an example. 

A person who is struggling with a mental health illness might feel stressed and exhausted. However, they may show great emotional health by discovering constructive ways to deal with the lack of energy.

On the contrary, a person may feel drained and damaged from the inside because of an existing mental health condition. But, they may also show their mental health by not shouting or expressing their anger at anyone they encounter.

How Do You Know If a Person is Struggling With Emotional and Mental Health?

Sometimes, our friends and even family members may need some support to cope with their tough times. And as a good friend and a Human, it's our right to help them. 

But here’s the thing. It's very hard to tell if a person is struggling mentally or emotionally. 

When a person is dealing with such concerns, they usually experience different kinds of symptoms. Even though some people can suffer from both at the same time, one generally represents the underlying cause. 

But how can you tell whether they are experiencing mental or emotional health issues?

Here's how. 

Speaking of behavior, those who suffer from mental illness may try to isolate themselves and avoid socializing with friends, relatives, and co-workers.

They frequently show dramatic mood changes. This makes it even more difficult to understand what their problem is. Still, you can make out that they are struggling mentally. 

Now, those suffering from emotional conditions may struggle to maintain healthy boundaries and may be too attached to and dependent on others. 

Moreover, they cry easily over minor inconveniences. They even start overthinking about small things, which makes them depressed. They also get hurt easily if anyone says or does anything wrong. 

So, if you ever feel the same or suspect your loved ones or family members are struggling emotionally or mentally, don't ignore it. Contact a therapist and seek treatment accordingly.

Key Takeaway!

Hopefully, now, it's clear to you about the differences between “Mental health vs. emotional health.” Indeed, they may sound similar, but they are different. 

To cut it short, mental health focuses on cognitive performance, whereas emotional health points to how we respond emotionally to situations. 

No matter what you're going through, you must prioritize both your mental and emotional health. Luckily, there are many ways you can do to improve them. 

After all, a happy life starts from the mindset! If you follow the tips we mentioned above and be active, you'll be on your way to a joyous life! 

On a serious note, if you're struggling mentally or emotionally, never keep it to yourself. 

Make an appointment with a trusted therapist or mental health expert. Talk it out, and you'll eventually feel better day by day. It’s the best choice you can make. 


1. What is an example of emotional health?

Ans: Some examples of emotional health are eating healthy, accepting feelings, managing stress, improving emotional regulation, strong social connections, and more.

2. Can mental health affect emotional health?

Ans: Yes, emotional health and mental health are intertwined. If you're dealing with mental health, it can affect how you think, feel, and act. That means challenges in one may impact another. 

3. Is anxiety emotional or mental?

Ans: Anxiety is an emotional disorder. It comes with feelings of tension, intrusive thoughts, or concerns. It interferes with your ability to function. 

4. How can you tell if you're emotionally healthy?

Ans: If you share your feelings and thoughts with your loved ones, feel content, handle stress, and deal with your problems, it means you're emotionally healthy. In other words, you're aware of your emotions.

5. What is the difference between emotional and mental connections?

Ans: Mental health is related to your overall psychological well-being, while emotional health is concerned with your ability to manage your feelings and mood.

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Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson is a New York based Health Specialist Writer who completed his graduation from Syracuse University back in 2015. His writings were published in the top Healthcare brands in the United States.

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