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MAPEH should be used in schools to enhance mental wellness.

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In order to promote mental health and well-being, the National Youth Commission (NYC) on Thursday recommended schools enhance their Music, Arts, and Physical Education (MAPEH) classes and include physical education in academic instruction.

Leah Villalon, the executive director, and chief operating officer of NYC, issued this statement as the nation observed National Students’ Day, which highlights the significant contribution and collective manifestation of students around the nation to effect positive change.

According to her, including physical exercises in face-to-face lessons will not only improve students’ concentration but also help them build the social skills needed to combat anxiety and sadness.

In the era of digital learning, specifically, we want to improve our MAPEH subjects, Villalon said during the Pandesal seminar held at the Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City.

She cited a 2021 National Youth Assessment Study to claim that 31% of youth respondents between the ages of 15 and 30 had attempted suicide.

The study also discovered a rise in the tendency of young people trying to commit suicide, from 12.9 percent in 2015 to 17 percent last year.

She claimed that the Covid-19 pandemic had a negative impact on juvenile mental health as well, with 34% of respondents claiming they lacked the resources to engage in online education, 44% feel they weren’t learning enough, and 46.7 reporting a reduction in motivation to learn.

“We want to concentrate on how critical student mental health is. There is still that valuable contribution and collective manifestation to bring about positive change, even though a student’s life has turned into a never-ending struggle laced with worries about academic achievement, relationship issues, and a plethora of personal challenges. The National Youth Commission shares the view that attaining greater levels of social responsibility, acceptance, and respect for differences can lead to beneficial improvements, she added.

F2F lessons

In order to provide their children the chance to interact with their peers and teachers, Villalon said parents and guardians must push their kids to attend in-person lessons.

Since there had been a two-year hiatus for our generation’s students, she said, “we would want to encourage face-to-face [lessons] because it had a big impact on our youth.”

She added that after their pupils have gotten adjusted to online learning, educators must be thoughtful in encouraging them to attend class.

Syempre ayaw natin sila takutin, huwag naman ganun (We don’t want to scare them, we shouldn’t do that),” she said. “We really need to support and encourage our students na pumasok at mag-aral (to attend class) [in a positive manner].

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) previously issued Memorandum Order No. 16, directing colleges and universities to start offering fully in-person classes or hybrid learning in the second semester of the academic year 2022–2023.

The CHED stated in its order that “an HEI cannot provide its authorized degree programs in full distance learning delivery, including online modalities unless there is approval from the Commission on Higher Education.”

Villalon likewise exhorted students to utilize the mental health resources offered by their schools, such as counseling sessions with guidance counselors.

According to her, schools must also let pupils know how to get in touch with groups that provide options for counseling and psychiatric consulting.

In accordance with Republic Act No. 1369, National Students’ Day is observed on November 17.

This year’s celebration, with the hashtag “#StudentMentalHealthMatters,” will go all day and feature young advocacy for mental health and panel discussions.

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