BACOLOD CITY – Social media and media, in general, could be good sources of information about mental health, but it could also cause a “contagion” effect if we are not too careful about where we get our information from.
This was what registered psychologist Abigaile Capay cautioned against during the mental health forum Beyond 13 Reasons Why: A Look at Mental Health Inside Out last October 9 at the University of St. La Salle.
Capay agreed that there is a proliferation of legit and non-legit sites on social media dealing with mental health issues. There are also sites that glamourize suicide.
She also cited 13 Reasons Why, the TV series that some psychological organizations criticized.
The key, she says, is knowing how to strike a balance.
The controversial TV series, for instance, should be watched by young people with their parents, and the show could be an important teaching point about the issue of mental health.
Self-diagnosis, she said, is another harmful practice as she cautions young people against what she describes as “contagion effect”, or when one condition is transferred to another.
She welcomes efforts, too, by the government to provide support service to students, like longer school breaks like in the US.
“Again, balance is key here, because these measures — while well-meaning — could also be abused,” she said.
Her advice to young people experiencing mental health issues: Seek professional help, talk to someone, vent.
Sometimes, once we have gotten something out of our chest, we feel a lot better.
Young people, she added, should not take failures too hard, as these failures are part of life.
“What is important is the process, not the destination,” she said.
Youth for Mental Health Coalition – Bacolod chapter-representative Jean Paul Amit also cautioned against self-diagnosis.
“It is not advisable to diagnose yourself of such (having a mental health issue) just because you have seen them on social media or series,” he said, saying that what one sees on media is not usually reliable.
For those people undergoing mental health issues, he said a strong support system is important in coping.
“What (people with mental health issues) need is your presence, for you to be there,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bacolod lone district representative Cong. Greg Gasataya observed the lack of facilities in state universities and colleges, making seeking mental health care a challenge.
The counsellor-to-student ratio is also really low, which is why he decided on House Bill 6768, now refiled as House Bill 573 which seeks to provide additional mental health care services to students in SUCs.