“What is emotional well-being? Are you referring to mental health?” These are questions I found myself asking when I heard the two terms used.

For the longest time, I struggled to differentiate between emotional well-being and mental health. If someone asked me how my mental health was doing, I would immediately assume it was about my feelings. In reality, there are so many other areas within the realm of mental health. You might be wondering if these two concepts are the same thing, or maybe you are confused altogether. Here are three ideas you can explore and decide for yourself!

1. Emotional well-being and mental health overlap

If mental health was an umbrella, emotional well-being would fall under it. Rather than viewing these two concepts as mutually exclusive, emotional well-being is an important factor that makes up mental health. Emotional well-being is how an individual might manage their feelings or behaviors, building the necessary resilience to combat everyday stressors. The term mental health, on the other hand, includes the psychological, social and emotional areas of who we are.

Entering college can be a difficult transition that brings up new emotions and experiences. I remember being extremely overwhelmed by the thought of starting anew. At the time, I developed a negative way of managing those emotions. Looking back, I can think of several ways how I might have managed them differently. These emotions and behaviors would start to affect my thought processes and interactions with others. Emotional well-being has an inevitable impact on mental health.

2. Emotional well-being is a developable skill

The ability to manage your emotions and build resilience is a skill that can be developed over time. Everyone is at a different stage with every aspect of well-being. If you are not where you want to be in your emotional well-being, know that you are not alone. Since we know emotional well-being is about managing emotion, one method I am learning is to create a system. If I know I might feel a certain way, I follow through with next steps to manage them.

For some individuals, developing the skill of emotional well-being may be easier than others. I happen to be an individual who finds emotional well-being more difficult. It does not make you any less capable of a human. When you are underdeveloped in one area, God commends you for your strength.

3. Emotional well-being does not define you

Our ability to feel and manage emotions do not define us. No matter how we feel, our identity remains in Christ. When we look at our brothers and sisters, what does that mean for them? God calls us to be kind and compassionate to one another. When we know someone who is struggling with their emotional well-being, community can be significant. Even with our own struggles with emotional management, small progress is still progress. God is present in our journey with emotional well-being, turning struggles into moments of resilience.

For more resources on emotional well-being, check out the student wellness website.

Beverly Chung is a Peer Wellness Ambassador in the Office of Student Wellness.