You may have heard the terms mental health and emotional health used often and interchangeably. But what do they mean, and is there a difference between mental and emotional health? What steps can you take to improve your mental and emotional health? Let’s review what constitutes mental and emotional health and discuss ways to boost both and live a more balanced lifestyle.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health refers to our cognitive and psychological well-being. It encompasses how we think, feel, and behave daily. Mental health influences our ability to cope with stress, maintain relationships, and make decisions. It involves various aspects such as cognitive functioning, emotional regulation, behavioral patterns, and psychological functioning.

Cognitive functioning involves thinking clearly, concentrating, and solving problems. Emotional regulation is the ability to manage and regulate our emotions and involves how we recognize, understand, and respond to our feelings. In addition, our behaviors, habits, and actions are also indicative of our mental health. Healthy cognitive functioning allows us to engage in positive behaviors and maintain fulfilling relationships. Psychological well-being encompasses our overall happiness, contentment, and satisfaction with life, such as having a positive self-image and outlook on life. In other words, mental health is an umbrella term to refer to how we think, feel, and act based on our thoughts and feelings.

What is Emotional Health?

Emotional health, on the other hand, is an essential component of our mental health. It pertains to how we experience and express our feelings and how effectively we can cope with any negative feelings that may come with the ups and downs of life. It also involves being aware of our emotions, both positive and negative. Critical aspects of emotional health include:

  • Self-Awareness: Emotional health involves being in tune with our own emotions and understanding what triggers certain feelings.
  • Emotional Resilience: Building emotional resilience is essential for maintaining emotional health. It involves the ability to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and cope with stress in healthy ways.

In short, mental health and emotional health are not the same thing. Think of mental health as something that helps us process information, while emotional health is our ability to manage and express feelings based on the information we just processed. Our mental health can affect our emotional health, and vice-versa. For that reason, it is vital to take steps to maintain good mental and emotional health so we can be better prepared to handle the many challenges and stressful situations that life may bring.

What Does Good Mental Health Look Like?

That being said, good mental health is not the same thing as simply not having a diagnosable mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression. You may still have poor mental health and struggle daily even if you don’t necessarily have a mental health condition. The opposite is also true – many people who have a diagnosed mental health condition are still able to be fully functional physically, socially, and emotionally.

Some experts suggest that having good mental health means having the capacity to prioritize your own well-being, value life, and engage in life. In other words, it is a desire to care for yourself and care for others you love while being fully aware of your feelings without relying solely on them to guide you, but without entirely ignoring them.

The effects of having poor mental health became very apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, as many were forced to become socially isolated and make drastic changes to their lifestyle. The CDC reports that mental-health-related emergency department visits for children 5-11 increased by 24% in April 2020 in comparison to the same period in 2019. The percentage of mental health emergency visits also climbed 31% for children ages 12-17.

Lack of in-person social interaction, lack of physical activity, changes in dietary habits, and disrupted sleep patterns were all too common during the pandemic, in addition to increased screen time and reliance on the internet for social connections and interaction. All of these components contributed to a worldwide mental health crisis.

The pandemic-related mental health crisis led to a series of studies that suggest the link between having a healthy lifestyle and having good mental health. More specifically, being aware of our physical health and taking steps to eat a balanced diet, get adequate sleep, and engage in regular physical activity can all have a beneficial effect on our mental health. Physical activity and a reduction in screen time are significant for children and teenagers, as uncovered by a recent study that showed children who engage in more physical activity and less screen time are likely to have better mental health outcomes.

How Can I Support My Emotional Well-Being?

Maintaining our emotional well-being is an essential component of having good mental health and leading a fulfilling and balanced life. Practicing self-care, cultivating healthy relationships, developing healthy coping strategies, and managing stress are just a few ways to take care of your emotional health. Here are a few tips to help you support your emotional well-being:

  • Engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress relief, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
  • Learn to identify and acknowledge your emotions without judgment, allowing yourself to experience them fully.
  • Develop healthy ways to regulate your emotions, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization techniques.
  • Build self-awareness by exploring the underlying causes of your emotions and recognizing patterns of behavior or thought that may contribute to emotional distress.
  • Prioritize adequate sleep, nutrition, and regular exercise, as these are fundamental for your emotional well-being.
  • Set boundaries to protect your time and energy, and learn to say no to commitments that may overwhelm you.
  • Surround yourself with supportive and positive people who uplift you and validate your emotions.
  • Learn healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress and adversity, such as mindfulness practices, journaling, or engaging in hobbies.
  • Build resilience by reframing negative thoughts, finding meaning in challenging experiences, and focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on problems.
  • Cultivate a sense of purpose by engaging in activities that bring you joy, fulfillment, and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Break down large goals into smaller, manageable steps, celebrating your progress along the way.
  • Seek therapy or counseling if you’re struggling to cope with overwhelming emotions or experiencing mental health issues.

Implementing just a few of these tips can have a dramatic impact on your mental and emotional health and improve your quality of life. However, it is okay to feel overwhelmed and acknowledge that you may need help to make these changes to improve your mental health.

This is when seeking help from a professional may make all the difference. Seeing a therapist and participating in individual or group therapy sessions may be highly beneficial to help you develop emotional awareness, identify stressors and triggers, and develop healthy coping strategies. At APN, you can participate in therapy sessions in person and online and get a customized treatment plan to fit your needs.

What Can I Do If Therapy Isn’t Working for My Mental Health?

While therapy is the recommended first step in your journey to improve your mental health, it is not the only way to achieve improvement. For many – especially those with a diagnosed mental health condition – simply going to therapy is not enough to improve their situation. If that is your case, don’t panic. There are many other alternative methods that can work together with therapy and medication (if applicable) to boost your mental and emotional health.

At APN, we go a step further and offer every patient a comprehensive care approach that can include cutting-edge therapies, such as Deep TMS, Ketamine-assisted therapy, and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

If you need support to improve your mental health or have already tried therapy without getting the results you hoped for, contact APN to talk with one of our skilled mental health professionals and learn more about how our integrated treatment approach can help you. Call us at 424.644.6486 or fill out the online contact form to get started.


  • Dressler, Jennifer. “The Difference between Mental and Emotional Health: What Your Organization Can Do to Support Both.” WebMD Health Services, 14 Mar. 2023,
  • “Mental Health–Related Emergency Department Visits among Children Aged 18 Years during the Covid-19 Pandemic – United States, January 1–October 17, 2020.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Nov. 2020,
  • Moore, Lela. “Good Mental Health: What Is It?” Psych Central, Psych Central, 17 Jan. 2023,
  • Tandon PS, Zhou C, Johnson AM, Gonzalez ES, Kroshus E. Association of Children’s Physical Activity and Screen Time With Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(10):e2127892. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.27892