Last January 22 to 24, 2019, the University of Santo Tomas Communications Bureau hosted LinkEd 2.0: Social Media in Education Summit, at the Audio Visual Room of the Tan Yan Kee Student Center.
Beyond the projected avatar
In her lecture entitled “Social Media and Mental Health”, Dr. Gia Sison started the talk with the three sides of the truth: the version of truth of person one, the version of truth of person 2, and the truth in itself. Sison said these versions of truth were distorted in social media, thus imposing danger.
Sison highlighted that people can learn from social media, despite its negative aspect, provided that it was used responsibly. “If a Facebook posts causes you to trigger negative emotions, act immediately by deactivating your account. Unfollow your ‘happiest’ friends or turn your computer off.”
Moreover, she reminded everyone that Facebook was not a representation of reality. “You should be able to separate that Instagram or Photoshop moments from reality, and you are only getting a slice of their lives. You have no idea what is going on under the surface.”
Sison said the first step of using social media responsibly was to stop comparing the self on everyone else’s positively biased representation of theirs, both in online and in real life, for one’s experiences vary.
“Deactivating your account might seem a little extreme, but if we work on the ‘positives’ that social media brings, we can use it in a way that aligns with our mental health and well-being.” she said.
Wellness starts at home
In her lecture entitled “Mental health: The Law, the Classroom”, Dr. Ma. Claudette Agnes, PhD, said the chapter five of the Mental Health Law aimed to have a positive contribution to the community, as it was integrated to the educational system in behalf of students and teachers.
She also highlighted that the University was already taking steps and implementing its measures in addressing mental health concerns. “We also have to make sure that we have [professionals] from the allied strands who will handle the problem.” Agnes said. “Approach some people who can help you.”
She also noted that the educators must also review their course offerings for the semester, and be more sensitive in terms of giving workloads and quantity of assignments.
Most importantly, she underscored that wellness starts at home. “Parenting is important because it affects the kind of disposition that we have right now.”
Reviewing standards for the benefit of students, teachers, and stakeholders.
Mr. Renz Christian Argao, MA, of Department of Psychology lectured on the teachers’ roles in students’ mental health. Argao highlighted that an educator must help the students reach his/her standards set for them.
“A good university or a faculty would know that raising standards, we must ensure that no student gets left behind.” Argao said. “Our standards do not need to suffer because we need to meet the needs of our students.” he said. “But we need to revisit the way that we are trying to meet those standards on the end of our students.” Argao followed.
Moreover, Argao said there were cases that the educators become the bully themselves. ” If the teachers themselves, sila pa nagsasabi na ‘Ay baliw iyang classmate niyo na ‘yan! Huwag niyo pakinggan iyan’, or ‘Nag-iinarte lang iyang classmate ninyo, huwag niyong pansinin iyan!’ That is where the stigma starts.” he said.
“We [the teachers] have a role in forming a supportive relationship in the school context.” he added.
Social media as an economic platform for students
Mr. Leandro Loyola underscored that social media in itself is good but those who use it made it bad. Moreover, Loyola said the youth were in search for online platforms where they will be noticed and recognized, and gather people in their virtual network, which then became a leeway for opportunities.
Citing a survey conducted by the New York Times, he said people would pass valuable information in their respective profiles to build and image and demonstrate who they are, and what they stand for. In turn, Loyola said students have a tendency to share irrelevant contents and that was where the educational institution–student affairs in particular–would step in for guidance. “Our students are on social media and if it needs for us to be there also so that we can assist them and guide them, the better.” he said.
Student affairs played a significant role in ensuring student development in various areas: from academics to personal; from socio-cultural to political participation and citizenship. Loyola said social media can be maximized and extend the reach of services to students who would prefer online counseling.
“What they [guidance counselors] do is they send messages and forward postings, and career and job placements, too […] and making the student handbooks available online for both students and parent.” he said.
Teachers need guidance too
Carolyn Quiba highlighted the use of social media in keeping mental health in check, and as well as the importance of setting multiple sessions with guidance counselors especially the faculty members.
“Go to a counselor and maybe you can receive the benefit [and] see how it will help you psychologically, spiritually, and mentally.” Quiba said.
Moreover, she cited that the Guidance Week and Mental Health Week. “Every 2nd week of Octobers is a national mental health week that could be a celebration for guidance.”
On online classrooms
Dr. Dinah P. Nadera tackled the autonomy of mental health law regarding informed consent to treatment and referral from the legal perspective.
“This is providing the opportunity for persons with mental health problems to assert their rights.” Nadera said. “The primary purpose is to protect the liability and, of course, [to protect] the human being.”
As such, Nadera urged the school administrators to explore the possibilities to explore further online cross-enrolments especially in General Education courses that ran online.
“All of the possible options that goes to school but not in the environment that may subject these students to stress–not because of the professors but probably because of living conditions.” she said.
Dr. Raymond John Naguit underscored the importance of social media in empowering partners who have mental health concerns. “We have to go beyond consulting them and really involve them in decision making.” Naguit said. “Social media is a good platform in advocacy work but and it does not lose the essence of educating people” he followed.
According to Naguit, while social movements should be popularized through a champion, it should be “headless” for it to work in the long run. “We work with some youth advocates and try to provide a platform where we can talk,” Naguit said. “It is important that we cut across our advocacies that is also one way of diversify in our advocates. ” he followed.
“Sometimes, it is your words that give them hope. Sometimes your words would mean their life and death.” Naguit said.
Educate, not demonize
Jeleen Tycangco said transforming people, who know nothing, instead of shaming them on social media would make social media a good space. “You demonize that person for not knowing something that is not innate in itself.” she said.
Tycangco said social media made it easy for people who have social anxiety to interact and also for them to vent out. “It makes them feel they belong to a certain group and it is accessible to connect with like-minded people.” Tycangco said.
“If we cannot take away all the negative [content], maybe we can outweigh it using more positive contents.” she said. “Any act of kindness, any form and help counts. There are no small ways when you put your heart and your intentions to it.”