Here’s where you can learn about the basics of emotional health: what it is (and isn’t), what a problem looks like, and how to get help.
Common Questions about Emotional Health
What is “emotional health?”
Emotional health is closely associated with wellbeing: living a life that is happy, healthy, and content. But emotional health isn’t about being happy all the time. It can also be about examining and constructively dealing with uncomfortable feelings, instead of blocking them out or reacting to them in an unhealthy way.
While the terms mental health and emotional health can sometimes be used to mean the same thing, we like to use the term emotional health at Response for Teens. Mental health bothers some people because of the way that mental health issues are negatively portrayed in the media.
How do I know if I have an emotional health problem?
- Finding it hard to enjoy doing things you have previously enjoyed?
- Having difficulty finding the energy or enthusiasm to go to school, hang out with friends, or go to work?
- Fighting a lot with family or friends, or pulling away from them?
- Sleeping or eating too much or too little?
- Feeling hopeless, like nothing really matters?
- Having worries or upsetting thoughts you can’t get out of your head?
If so, you may be experiencing depression or anxiety. While it’s true that everyone goes through tough times, if your feelings are interfering with your life as you know it, it’s important that you talk to someone about it.
If your feelings are causing you to think about harming yourself or others, it’s important that you seek immediate help. Call 911 or take yourself to the nearest hospital. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255.
Facts and Myths about Emotional Health
Myth: Emotional health problems only affect adults. Children, teens and young adults have emotional health issues, too. In fact, three out of four people with emotional health problems show signs before they are 24 years old.
Myth: It’s all in your head. If you have emotional health issues, you may hear people saying “This will pass,” “Cheer up,” or even “Snap out of it!” But these problems are not temporary, and they have nothing to do with being weak or flawed. Many factors play a part, including genetics, serious illness or brain injury, or traumatic experiences. The truth is that you can feel better—but not because it will eventually “blow over” or because you “try harder.” You need help and support to improve your emotional health.
Myth: Emotional health problems are embarrassing and shameful. People with emotional health issues are often stigmatized and inaccurately portrayed in movies, TV, books, or news. This can lead to fear of judgment and avoidance. But people who have emotional health issues are not “crazy” or any of the other slurs that get attached to these types of problems.
Fact: You are not alone! Lots of people have been where you are, or are there right now. According to Youth.gov, one in every four or five youths meets criteria for some kind of lifetime emotional health issue. And although you may be feeling isolated, there are plenty of people available to help you—you just need to be brave and reach out.
Talk to someone. The first step in taking care of emotional health issues is to talk to someone you feel safe with, like a counselor at school, a parent, or another adult in your life whom you trust. Tell that person what you’re experiencing, and talk about ways to get further help.
Don’t fear the couch. Worried or ashamed about talking to a counselor? Don’t be! A good counselor will build a trusting relationship with you over a period of time. They absolutely respect your privacy, and will not judge, criticize or shame you. Counselors can help you sort through difficult issues and can help set you on a journey to becoming a healthier, happier you.