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Difference Between Mental Health and Emotional Health

Both mental and emotional health are essential in our subjective well being. A balance between our cognitive processes and affective states is crucial in maintaining good health. As they are closely related, certain factors may overlap. Our current emotional state largely affects how we process information and vice versa.

For instance, an angry individual would most likely think rashly and someone who is pessimistic would most likely experience negative emotions. Also, being in an ecstatic state is related with making ideal promises.

For example, a number of people make bold New Year’s resolutions which may be influenced by the merry holiday season.

Despite their similarities, mental health is different from emotional health.

Generally, the former is concerned with processing information while the latter is more focused on how feelings are expressed.

Hence, the distinction lies on the mechanisms involved in thinking versus expressing sentiments. The following explanations further delve into such variations:


What is Mental Health?

From the Latin word “mentalis”, which means “mind”, mental health largely refers to cognitive processes such as attention, alertness, memory, critical thinking, and reasoning.

A person with a sound mind makes appropriate decisions, relates well with others, and functions productively.

On the other hand, an individual suffering from a mental illness generally cannot perform routine activities, have highly irrational thoughts and perceptions, think of harming others or himself, often feels confused or irritated, and consistently manifest other dysfunctional behaviors.

The most common types of mental illnesses include anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and schizophrenia.

The following are recommended in maintaining good mental health: 

  • Exercise regularly, eat balanced meals, and sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours a day
  • Maintain genuine, supportive, and enduring relationships
  • Practice optimism by saying positive and grateful comments about yourself and others
  • Perform acts of kindness as helping someone boosts self-esteem and sense of purpose
  • Seek medical professional help if needed


What is Emotional Health?

Emotion came from the Latin word, “emovere” which means “to stir up” or “to agitate”.  Generally, emotional health deals with how we manage our feelings; those times when we get “stirred up” or “agitated”.

Emotional health is often connected with happiness, optimism, and resilience. Hence, some authors refer to it as an extension of mental health as having a positive emotional health means having a likewise favorable experience of wellness during both pleasant and unpleasant life events.

Specifically, positive emotional health is characterized by being able to accurately identify and monitor one’s feelings. Moreover, emotionally healthy people know how to appropriately express their reactions and facilitate their behavior despite intense affective states.

As a result, they can better deal with stressful events, maximize their potentials, and perceive their lives as quite fulfilling. To achieve such, the following concrete practices are recommended:

  • Identify and hone your strengths
  • Look for the positive side in unfavorable situations
  • Set aside quality time for rest and recreation
  • Connect with friends, family, and loved ones
  • Enrich your spiritual life by praying, meditating, etc.


Difference between Mental and Emotional Health

  1. Focus of Mental and Emotional Health

Mental health is largely concerned with cognitive processes such as perceiving and deciding while emotional health is more focused on expressing feelings like anger, happiness, etc.

  1. Pathology involved in Mental and Emotional Health

Mental health is usually associated with illnesses such as schizophrenia and mood disorders. On the other hand, emotional health often deals with less pathological concerns such as dealing with stress.

  1. Positive Psychology

As the movement of Positive Psychology is usually associated with emotional states such as happiness, hope, and resilience, it is closer to maintaining emotional health. As for mental health, the related topics are often on various disorders and disabilities.

  1. Medical Assistance

Since mental health is more often connected with disorders, it is likewise more involved with medical assistance such as psychiatric or clinical psychological services. In contrast, people who are having emotional health issues are more likely to consult counselors or life coaches.

  1. Organic Roots of Mental and Emotional Health

As compared to emotional health, mental health is more often explained by one’s organic roots such as neurological factors. For instance, patients with schizophrenia may have chemical imbalances in the brain and that those with Alzheimer’s disease experience brain cell degeneration.

  1. Social Skills

Though mental health is also related with social skills, emotional health is more closely associated with such interactions as it deals with pertinent competencies such as empathy, emotion regulation, and handling relationships.

  1. Coverage

As compared to emotional health, mental health encompasses more elements as it includes affective states as well as managing thought processes and actions. For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that mental health encompasses an individual’s “subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, inter-generational dependence, and self-actualization of intellectual and emotional potentials…”

Mental vs Emotional Health: Comparison Table


Summary of Mental Vs. Emotional Health

  • Both mental and emotional health are essential in the development of our subjective wellbeing.
  • How we think affects how we feel and vice versa.
  • Mental came from the Latin word “mentalis” which means “mind” while emotion came from the Latin word “emovere” which means “to agitate”.
  • Mental health is more on thinking while emotional health is concerned with expressing feelings.
  • As mental health is concerned with illnesses, it is likewise more related with medical services and organic bases as compared to emotional health.
  • Positive Psychology is more closely linked with emotional health than mental health.
  • As compared to mental health, emotional health is more often related with social competencies.
  • Mental health has a broader coverage as compared to emotional health.

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References :

[0]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/mental-health-mental-health-cloud-1831391/

[1]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/anxiety-word-cloud-word-chronic-1337383/

[2]Orloff, Judith. Emotional Freedom. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2009. Print. 

[3]Szasz, Thomas. The Myth of Mental Illnesses. New York: Harper Perennial, 2010. Print.

[4]World Health Organization. Mental Health, 2018. Viewed 18 June 2018,

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