TWO weeks ago, I talked about mental health, particularly on the roles of the parents to their children's mental health promotion, especially with the stress brought about by the pandemic. And then, just last Wednesday, the Department of Education, particularly Davao City National High School, invited me to talk about mental health but this time, mainly about "Taking Care of Our Mental Health in Facing the New Future."

I had begun by presenting how the world felt when the pandemic started in the last year of 2020. It was horrible listening to daily news about the increasing number of deaths every day. The lonely quarantine and that new social distancing led to increased mental health issues and illnesses.

Substance abuse, anxiety, trauma disorder, and suicide incidences are increasing to those 18 and above, according to some studies in 2020. Indeed, the pandemic drastically impacted almost all community sectors, and one of the most affected is the educational sector.

Students get tired of the online or modular classes. Some feel that they are not learning any, and it consumes so much of their energy. For teachers, the challenge is facing the computer monitors the whole day, checking students' requirements or modules, and feedbacking. This has made their lives more complicated, and time management was undeniably terrible!

And so, I reminded all the participants of the universal need for "mental health," not only during this pandemic. And that it entails three components that go together: cognitive, behavioral, and emotional health. Therefore, one cannot claim that he is mentally healthy if one element is in trouble.

Furthermore, it was essential to discuss the brain structure of teenagers. They were led to understand that teen brains' prefrontal cortex is the last to mature at 25. And since its function includes the ability to discern what is right and wrong, teenage brains can make bad decisions. I hope that students' participants realize why their parents are so strict with them at times. Parents expect their children to make guided decisions to achieve life joy and success.

That is why I reiterated the protective and risk factor of mental health. Protective factors, also known as positive indicators of mental health examples, include tolerance for delayed gratification, trusting family relationships, participation in school, and many more. While risk factors are negative indicators such as poor self-control, negative self-view, ineffective parental guidance, and drug use, leading to mental health problems.

Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) mental health and psychosocial consideration during this pandemic were tackled, and I feel that it enticed young people to do it themselves. I can sense their interest when they ask many questions about practicing it in their daily lives.

Finally, I have presented the 3 Rs developed by Turnaround Children (2020). It was all about relationships, routines, and resilience essential for young people learning and managing stress as they face the new future. Relationships were about connecting and helping other people that enhances the immune system. Routines were about calming the brain by making daily activities in order. And that resilience is about co-regulating feelings and reactions to stress.