Let’s compare and contrast emotional wellness vs. mental health to gain a better sense of what these terms mean. You may have heard the terms emotional wellness and mental health used In a way that made them seem as though they meant the same things. However, these terms have distinctly different meanings but work together collectively, meaning you can’t have one without the other.
What does the term emotional wellness mean?
Emotional wellness refers to how you express your feelings in any given situation. It’s all about how you respond to certain people, situations, or stressors. Your emotional wellness regulates your reactions to these things.
The emotions you communicate would then be determined either appropriate or not, depending on the situation.
What does mental health mean?
So mental health refers to how you process the information given in certain situations. For example, someone offers to help you carry a heavy load. You can perceive this in at least two ways. The first being, you think the person is nice and is trying to be helpful. The second, you perceive their offer as a sign that they think you are weak and can’t handle it on your own.
If your mental health is struggling your perception may be off which in turn can cause you to respond with the incorrect emotion for the given situation.
Emotional wellness vs. mental health
So now that you know what each of these terms means let’s discuss how they both work together and function separately.
You may be noticing by now that even though at first glance, emotional wellness and mental health seem similar, they really are not. Rather, they work together or in response to one another.
Take the example I mentioned before where the person is offering to help carry a burdensome load. If you interpret their offer to mean they are trying to be nice and helpful, what kind of emotional response might you have?
Appropriate responses would likely be feeling grateful, or expressing thankfulness. You may be happy or relieved. It would even be copacetic to want to return the favor by helping them out in return.
However, if you perceive their offer as them somehow judging your abilities or insinuating weakness, your response might be more unfavorable. Instead of happiness, you might convey anger or become defensive. It’s likely the interaction will have negative results if you respond in this manner, when you may have just misinterpreted things, to begin with.
Let’s look at another example to help explain how they work in conjunction with one another.
Say a friend of yours has a surprise for you. They think it will be fun for you to choose one choice of two, and they tell you that you’ll like both, but can only have one.
The pressure is on!
How would you perceive this scenario?
Again, you could take it one of two ways.
- Decide it’s an exciting surprise and since you were told you’ll like both choices you can’t lose. Match your friend’s excitement level and make a game out of it. Once you pick, you are thrilled with the one you chose and have no regrets.
- Begin to feel like your friend is putting too much pressure on you and you start to feel stressed out. You decide that if you truly will like both, why don’t they just let you have both of the surprises and stop messing with your head?
Obviously, these two perceptions are clearly different and will provoke decidedly varied results.
Emotional and Mental Difference Simplified
Here is a list of the difference between emotional wellness and mental health. Having them side by side will help you quickly see just how contrasting they actually are in fact.
- Expressing emotion
- Can thrive here while struggling mentally
- Can be irrational
- Can be affected by past negative experiences
- Can be affected by past positive experiences
- May experience rapid mood changes
- Sighing loudly, vocal distress
- Processing information
- Can thrive here while struggling emotionally
- Can think rationally
- Can be a chemical imbalance
- React or respond inappropriately
- May be quiet or withdrawn
- Can seem abnormal
It’s important to note that a person can seem like they are happy but still be struggling with mental health. Being able to laugh or have fun in the moment isn’t an indicator that a person’s mental state is fine, in fact, people who suffer from depression can still enjoy themselves at times.
Depression doesn’t prevent a person from noticing when something is funny or enjoying a delicious treat. It’s much more than that as I have demonstrated above.
The ability to express enjoyment or laughter is the emotional side of things, while the depression lives within the mental health side of it.
Also, having a healthy state of emotional health doesn’t mean you walk around smiling and humming happy tunes all the time, it just means you have learned how to cope with life’s little hiccups. It shows that you know how to respond in a way that is deemed acceptable. For instance, when a situation is upsetting, you become mildly irritated rather than experiencing a full blown panic attack.
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