Emotional Health

"Live in Peace and Harmony" -Southeast Traditional Tribal Values

Another part of our health is our emotional health. Keeping our emotional health well means being aware of our feelings and our reactions to others and situations. There are healthy ways to respond and unhealthy ways. What this means is that our emotions are healthy themselves, but how we choose to react may not be. An example of this is that anger is a healthy emotion, but reacting to a situation that made you angry with violence would be unhealthy. Choosing to go play basketball or go to the batting cages or going out with a friend to talk would all be healthy ways to deal with the emotion of anger.

When we don't watch out for our emotional health there can be physical health effects too. Some of these can be aches and pains in muscles from stress, or have less energy, or feel tired all the time. Just like our bodies, our emotional health can be unwell without having a major illness, such as depression. To learn more about depression, please scroll down. Also, just like our physical health, there are activities and ways of living that can keep our minds healthy. Taking care of our emotional health is part of how we make ourselves happy and enjoying life to the fullest.

Many things we can do for our physical and sexual health also help us keep our emotional health well, such as:


We all go through ups and downs in our mood. Sadness is a normal reaction to our everyday and life struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness.

Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don't feel sad at all—they may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic, or men in particular may even feel angry, aggressive, and restless. Depression can look different for lots of people and cause them to act in ways that are not normal for them.

Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.

Signs of Depression

Over 25% of youth have symptoms of at least mild depression

  • prolonged feelings of sadness
  • disinterest in usual activities
  • changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • restlessness
  • lack of energy
  • anxiety
  • anger
  • increased drug and alcohol use
  • thoughts about death and suicide
  • indifference about the future

What If I'm Depressed?

 31.7% of Alaska Native youth reported feeling so sad or hopeless everyday for 2 weeks that they stopped doing some of their usual activities

  • SEEK HELP. Turn to a trusted, responsible adult (parent, teacher, coach, healthcare provider, relative) or friend. Let someone know how you’re feeling!
  • Exercise and eat well. If your body is taken care of, you can focus more on taking care of your mind.
  • Express your feelings creatively. Journaling, painting, collaging, singing, songwriting, and poetry are great ways to release negative energy and can be kept as private as you choose.
  • See a mental health specialist. They’ll have resources, answers, and advice to help you. Remember, it’s their job to listen and help. 


Sometimes when someone is depressed, thoughts of suicide can start. Even though depression makes you feel like there is no end or no way out, there is an end to feeling that way through seeking help and talking to mental health professionals. If you feel like you are at-risk to commit suicide, please visit our page about Suicide for help.