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By Beth Manangan

 With heightened stresses and anxieties brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, adults were invited to join in the annual Asian-Pacific Youth Day, which was held virtually.

 After the general keynote talk, participants were divided into youths and adults and assigned rooms for discussion.

 For the adult group, the discussion centered on the importance of taking care of mental health: Questions addressed were:

 • Why is it important to take care of our mental health?

 • How can you take care of your mental health?

 • What are the signs that a youth are struggling with their mental health?

 • What is the stigma in sharing their mental health challenges?

 • How to Overcome Fear of Sharing?

 There was lots of input from the adults even going beyond by sharing their own experiences which also identified their challenges, stress and how they coped with it. Some of the comments included:

 It is important to take care of our mental health and to keep our physical body healthy, which allows us to enjoy life and be happy.

 We can take care of our mental health due to a lot of stress/challenges in our work, school, home by taking time to relax. It could be playing the guitar, singing, listening to music, cooking, reading. Others release their stress by exercise or dance class.

 We cannot go through our challenges on our own so we need to talk with someone we know will not judge us, who will listen, and who will understand what we are going through.

 It is important that we recognize the signs of someone who is struggling with mental health. Someone who used to be happy suddenly is always sad and quiet. Always wanting to be alone and just does not want to do anything. These are very important changes.

 The time during the break-out room discussion was not enough. It was a great experience especially for the adults who are someone’s mother, sister, friend, grandmother, or co-worker. We learned that we all have mental health struggles and that recognizing the symptoms, we can help someone, even ourselves overcome mental health challenges.

 In closing, everyone has their own struggles and so we should not be ashamed to let a friend or someone we trust share in our fears and challenges. No man is an island.

 Beth Manangan is the former Chairperson of the Filipino Ministry-Diocese of San Bernardino.