The effects of social isolation on mental health are known to be significant, which makes caring for our emotional and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic especially critical.
ETR’s emotional health, stress reduction, and self-esteem titles outline healthy ways to respond to strong feelings and challenging events, such as our current global health crisis. Other titles provide help for dealing with common mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Explore our emotional and mental health materials below.
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Emotional health plays an important role in people’s lives. It affects the way they feel and behave. It influences their success in relationships, work, school and other parts of life. It’s closely related to how satisfied and happy people are.
The terms emotional health and mental health are both used to describe a state of well-being. Some people think of emotional or mental health as the absence of mental illness. But researchers now suggest that emotional health, like physical health, is something everyone can improve by learning and practicing health-boosting skills.
Young people can learn skills to improve their emotional health. They can train themselves to respond in healthy ways to strong feelings and challenging events. When people learn and practice steps to good emotional health, they can have happy and more fulfilling lives.
People with good emotional health tend to make good choices about their physical health. They are more likely to avoid alcohol and other drugs. They make safe choices about sex. They eat healthy foods and are physically active.
All people face challenges in their day-to-day lives. Everyone will go through difficult emotions, such as sadness, anger and fear. Emotionally healthy people develop ways to deal with troublesome feelings. They might talk to friends, write in a journal, or take a run. If the feelings or thoughts become too hard to manage, they talk to a counselor or health care provider and get help.
The teen years are a time of changes and new experiences. But daily life can also become more complex. What’s challenging for one person might be easy for another. Any number of things in young people’s lives can cause stress—a feeling of being under pressure.
Some people think of stress as only a negative force in their lives. But stress isn’t always a problem. A life with no changes or challenges would be very dull. Stress can prepare the body to react. Heart rate increases. Breathing gets faster. The mind focuses, and a person’s reaction time speeds up. Once the stressful situation is over, the body turns off the response and returns to normal.
But when the body’s stress response doesn’t shut off, or when the stress is ongoing, it can lead to problems. Chronic stress increases the risk for obesity, depression and other physical and mental illnesses.
In the United States, about 1 out of 5 adults suffers from a mental health problem in any given year. Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Most of these disorders can be treated. Many can be cured. These are some of the more common disorders:
Anxiety disorders involve unreasonable fears or anxiety. They are one of the most common disorders among children and teens. Anxiety reactions may be triggered by trauma or everyday events.
Mood disorders include depression and bipolar disorder. Depression may be harder to recognize in teens than in adults, because teens may show symptoms differently. For example, they may act out or be cranky instead of reporting that they feel sad.
Eating disorders involve severe changes in eating behavior and may also involve body-image disorders. People often feel shame about their eating behavior and try to keep it secret. Over time, eating disorders can lead to severe health problems.
Everyone feels down at times. People can get overwhelmed by work or studies. They may have money worries or relationship problems. After a few days or weeks, most people begin to have moments when they feel OK again. Thoughts about suicide are not a normal response to stress. Such thoughts are important signals that someone needs help.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an extremely debilitating anxiety condition that can occur after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal. Although many know that this mental health issue affects veterans of war, many may not know that it also affects victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, natural disasters, crime, car accidents and accidents in the workplace. Left untreated, PTSD can lead to emotional numbness, insomnia, addiction, anxiety, depression and even suicide.