Mapua promotes safe virtual space, opens conversations through Online Kapihan


To help students and professors manage their stress and anxiety amid the ongoing pandemic, Mapúa University has initiated an online kapihan that encourages informal healthy conversations within its community.
Organized by the university’s School of Social Sciences and Education and its Student Council and the Mapúa Psychological Society, students and faculty members are provided with a safe virtual space to express their concerns and be heard.
Psychology and general education professor and student council adviser John Christopher D. Castillo explained that the online kapihan is a virtual sit-down session where participants can have quick chats with fellow students and professors not for a lecture but for casual conversations.
“We have been holding kapihan sessions even before the pandemic happened as part of our catching up with our students, and we would hold it during the seventh week of every term. Most student council members are fond of casual conversations over a cup of coffee, and that was how the idea came about. This activity combines their love for coffee and sharing stories, and we continue to do it virtually during this lockdown,” Castillo added.
The participants go online via Zoom and enter breakout rooms based on various topics they want to share about such as love, academics, family, self, sociopolitical issues, gaming, and online business, among others.
All conversations are held confidential and kept between the individuals inside the rooms.
“The activity encourages students to pause, breathe, and converse, or just listen. It gives them an opportunity to share what they are passionate about, what makes them happy, or anything that keeps them going,” noted Castillo, who is also the chair of the University’s Understanding the Self and Gender & Society cluster.
“We want this activity to be a reminder that there are people willing to listen. Most importantly, our mental and emotional battles do not have to be fought alone,” he added.
Last year, the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) reported a significant increase in hotline calls regarding depression and suicide-related concerns.
The Department of Health (DOH) consistently encouraged Filipinos, not only students, to be more involved in discussions and break the stigma regarding mental health.