SOCIAL media is not for everyone, said Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh.
“People without discipline cannot use social media, so many politicians in Malaysia got into trouble for their social media postings,” Yeoh said at a dialogue themed “The Effects of Social Media on Our Youths’ Mental Wellbeing.”
It was held at The Joke Factory, a comedy venue in Publika, Kuala Lumpur that comedian Harith Iskander founded with his wife Dr Jezamine Lim.
The dialogue was held in conjunction with World Mental Health Month and was the final stage of a two-month initiative after having 10 hours of workshops.
The project involved five schools, driven by real-live insights of 462 unique stories from each student.
Harith moderated at the dialogue, injecting humour to an otherwise serious topic.
It was co-organised by Pusat Wanita Berdaya (Bandar Utama), ThoughtFull, NeoSpice, and supported by Bandar Utama assemblyman Jamaliah Jamaluddin and State Health, Welfare, Women Empowerment and Family Committee chairman Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud.
The panel included Yeoh, R.AGE deputy executive editor and producer Ian Yee, Pusat Tuisyen Kasturi marketing manager Tunku Elana Khyra Tunku Yaacob and Pantai Hospital child psychologist Katyana Azman.
Among the topics discussed were the current state of mental health among 15-year-olds, the role social media plays in their lives and how it affects them, implications for the business community and societal roles in encouraging responsible social media usage.
As a public figure, Yeoh said she learned to turn off negative comments.
“I have learned regardless of what you do, you can never please everybody.
“When you have a child who has low confidence facing negative comments on social media, they cannot cope with it and that’s how cyberbullying happens. That’s why we need to go into their world and educate them,” she said.
The effects of social media is not all negative as it has been a positive experience for Tunku Elana Khyra.
She recalled her time studying in the United States.
“I was able to speak about my experiences on a platform that allowed me to post anonymously; people reached out to me and gave me words of support and encouragement.
“Social media is great when you are not ready to talk with your family and closest friends as it can be hard to talk about mental health, isolation and loneliness,” she said.
For Katyana, Malaysia is still very much in its infancy when it comes to understanding mental health.
“Talking about it is a huge first step, removing the taboo comes from being able to say it aloud without feeling the world is against you,” she said, adding that it is important to teach youths about empathy.
“It is also about responsibility and consequences for their actions.”
Yeoh challenged those present to be a volunteer.
“It is more important to spend money on intervention than on treatment.
“Befrienders needs volunteers, they lack people who can speak Tamil.
“After I put up banners around Subang Jaya, Befrienders received an additional 30% of calls from Subang Jaya alone. I was told that it is not just depression, loneliness is another issue on the rise,” she said.