Some adolescents have attributed mental health issues to excessive and uncontrolled use of the social media.
They stated this on Wednesday, May 16, 2023, at a conference on Mental Health Awareness for Adolescents and Young Adults organised by an educational foundation, Inspire Minds in Abuja.
The adolescents opined that, addiction to social media could lead to no or less time for them to study or do other things that are beneficial to them or lead them to pornographic sites.
Drawn from different secondary schools in Abuja, the participants also said that depression could come from the fake lives being displayed on the social media.
They, however, said that reduced time on social media to focus on studying, engaging with their peers and others constructively and parental guidance could help teenagers avoid the pitfalls of mental health issues.
Teenage ambassador for the foundation,
Miss Victory Ekong, noted that anxiety, depression, constant pressure on a teenager were all things that could lead to mental health problems for them.
She also said that apart from social media, these issues could emanate from home, school and the society at large.
She, however said that through interventions and workshops by the foundation, she had been made to understand that having a stable mental health was paramount to a teenager’s total wellbeing.
“I have also been made to understand that teenagers need attention and mental health is not something you joke with, it is actually a more serious matter than people think it is. I am more stable in my mental health now because I am aware that it is a natural condition and I try to avoid issues that may lead to mental health breakdown.”
A professional Child and Adolescent Counsellor and one of the facilitators at the conference, Mrs Constance Egwuatu
said that many young people now battle with mental health issues but cannot talk about them for fear of stigma or being perceived as having spiritual issues.
Egwuatu said that many do not even know what exactly was wrong with them because they did not seek help go into depression, isolate themselves and begin to have suicidal thoughts or engage in vices.
“Some are being raped or abused and they go through a lot of things. So these mental health issues should be a concern, especially for all our young people, children and teenagers.
“We should mind what we say or what we do around them and to them and we should also encourage the children to begin to talk to us or talk to counsellors who can help them. However, it should start from home so the awareness really should start from home so parents can know what to look out for in the children to detect if something is wrong with them.”
She further said, contents being created should be responsible so that teenagers can learn from them rather than cause them harm. Adding that, social media should not just be about getting followers but should also serve as a veritable tool to guide them appropriately.
She advised parents to give the needed attention to the young ones to encourage them, adding that when attention is broken at home they run to others to get it which may be disastrous.
“That is why I tell teachers and parents that they should not aggravate the problems of the children. They need to be understood, don’t push them to the social media.When you don’t give them what they need, social media is there with different kinds of content.”
On her part, co-founder of Inspire Minds, Mrs Rosemary Uwaleme, said that the conference was aimed at creating awareness, reducing stigma and mitigating social vices.
According to her, mental health issues in Nigeria were not taken very seriously which has led to many cases of suicide even among teenagers.
“Today we hear of different cases of suicide, they started from somewhere so we need to create awareness for people to know what these issues are, know when they need to speak to someone about problems that they have, so that they can avoid getting into such problems.
“Now bringing teenagers into this, many teenagers don’t like to talk about their problems, so you have to make talking about mental health with them be like a normal language, just like you speak English.
“In Nigeria when you say mental health people think you are talking about madness. So the aim of this organisation is to create mental health awareness so that we can cope with cases like depression, abuse, and all sorts of mental health issues. We want to create that awareness and help young people to be able to communicate freely about their problems”, Uwaleme said.
She explained that, this could be achieved through sensitisation and counselling programmes for young people.
She said that the foundation also provides financial support for the teenagers when necessary and also partners with the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to provide facilities for them.
Hon. Nsikak Ekong, Member representing Ikot Ekpene Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, said that the conference was impactful because it addresses issues that had to do with social media and teenagers:
“So this kind of workshop is very good because it educates the young ones, you catch them young, you try to change your attitude towards life, try to change their mentality, you try to make them believe and know that whatever you want to be depends on you, no procrastination.
“In terms of laws, we are getting there somehow. Most states have domesticated the Child Rights Act, which is a law that protects the child from bad experiences, trauma and child abuse, so I think we will get there”, he said.