Understanding the Differences Between Mental vs Psychological Health

 Differences Between Mental vs Psychological Health. The potential to oversimplify mental illness is pretty common. Mental illnesses are often characterized by their mental components or deemed otherwise as disorders that solely reside in the mind. But what does that really mean? Does it refer to biological health? Mental health? Psychological health? The fact is that mental illness encompasses all three facets of health because, ultimately, all three are not mutually exclusive.

Understanding Differences: Mental Health Issues

Perhaps the best way to think about mental health is to think about it in the realm of cognition. This means that mental health primarily refers to the way in which one thinks about themselves and the world around them. Also, this can be understandably confusing as the term “mental health” has become the overarching moniker for the entire category of mental illness.

When individuals are struggling with their mental health, they are often struggling with how they either control or are controlled by their thoughts. If an individual is struggling with their mental health, these thoughts are generally negative, intrusive, or otherwise problematic. These thoughts can also be detrimental because such thoughts often inform negative emotions and behaviors.

Some may wonder, then, “Where do these thoughts manifest from?” While, of course, this question can take people all over the philosophical map, when regarding mental illness, they generally arise from one’s emotions.

Understanding Differences: Psychological Health Issues

Understanding the Two Types of Schizoaffective Disorder

Just as we think of mental health in relation to our cognitions, we should think of psychological health in relation to an individual’s emotions and behaviors. For example, if an individual is feeling excessively lonely, they may act out by shutting down psychologically and isolating behaviorally.

This can also be a difficult concept to understand because new questions may form, such as, “What ultimately affects the other in our psychology? Does one’s behaviors more so affect one’s emotions, or is it the other way around?” Ultimately, the answer is both. With psychological health, behaviors and emotions are cyclical, and they are also intrinsically linked to mental health.

Understanding Psychological Health as Part of Mental Health

Perhaps to best understand cognitions, emotions, and behaviors is to stop trying to wholly divide them. As previously mentioned, they are each composed of their own elements and concepts, but one cannot function without the others. In fact, when one is not functioning optimally, that is when mental illness can arise.

It is important to focus on both mental and psychological health in mental illness because sometimes one must be the focal point in treatment. For example, in people with adult ADHD, it is important to focus on their cognitive function first. This is because if the mind cannot be calmed, then the ability to get to the underlying emotional issues becomes significantly more difficult.

Treating Mental Health and Psychological Health Together

Simple Grounding Techniques for Dissociation

However, ultimately treating mental and psychological health becomes rather difficult to treat separately. Also, eventually treating them in tandem is the goal; as achieving total wellness involves creating balance in both areas of health.

One treatment modality that is a good example of treating both mental and psychological issues together is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This therapy first works by getting to the underlying emotional issues that create negative behaviors and negative thinking. It is only after these emotional issues are uncovered that they can be addressed. Then, the behaviors and cognitions associated with the emotional concerns can be mitigated and/or avoided. 

Now, a holistic treatment, like yoga and meditation, takes a different approach. These methods first focus on calming the mind and eliminating racing and intrusive thoughts. Once these cognitions are controlled, then the emotional mind becomes more available to both investigate and, if needed, heal. Thus, it is not hard to see how interconnected mental and psychological health really are.