Abstract. This study investigated various aspects of psychological distress, adaptive coping mechanisms, and well-being among junior high school students in public schools within General Santos City. The researchers employed a descriptive-correlational research design, administering a researcher-developed questionnaire to students from four prominent public high schools. Statistical analyses included the use of mean, standard deviation, and Pearson's r correlation. The findings indicate that junior high school students experience high levels of psychological distress. Although the overall impact of contributing factors is low, specific factors such as excessive use of technology or social media and concerns about post-junior high school futures were notably significant. Despite experiencing high levels of psychological distress, students reported using adaptive coping mechanisms and maintaining a high level of well-being. A significant relationship was also identified between psychological distress and student well-being. Based on these findings, the researchers recommend the implementation of tailored mental health intervention programs to address the specific challenges faced by students in public high schools. Such programs could enhance student well-being, mitigate long-term issues, and provide support for school counselors, teachers, and mental health advocates. The study's results offer a foundation for developing practical interventions to improve the mental well-being of junior high school students in public schools, thereby promoting a healthier and more supportive educational environment.

Keywords: Psychological distress; Adaptive coping mechanism; Well-being; Junior high school students; Philippines