28 October 2022

Among the participants in the dialogue were Clinical Psychologist Ms Lusanda Cebekhulu, social worker Ms Namhla Bhandu, Miss Mpumalanga Lungile Fakude, Miss UMP Ndiwanga Murvaha, Mr Mpumalanga Abednico Mabaso, and UMP students.

Facilitating the discussion was Clinical Psychologist Cebekhulu who said that “when we speak about social media, we are not claiming that it is bad for us, it is also good for us. Though it comes with plenty of disappointments and gratifications.”

She further said that social media bears positives as it has reconnected her with colleagues and acquaintances from her past.

“There are positives about social media because it helps us get in touch with people who are not in front of our eyes, but we all use it for different reasons. Social media influences how we think, and what to do, and even more so it has an impact on how we look at ourselves

“You can get plugs to skin care products or tips on how to start a business, and sometimes even get inspirational messages that might help with your mental health. It is important to understand that those messages you see on social media are just a guide, it is important to seek professional help for better results.”

Finding balance

Speakers also discussed the disadvantages of social media, which includes being consumed and not able to finish projects and comparing your life to those that post on social media.

UMPStudents came out in numbers to engage with experts at the dialogue: Let's Talk Mental Health, held during the Mental Health Awareness Week.

Miss UMP, Ndiwanga Murvaha believes social media is a platform where people, including herself, want to show who they are, but it has the potential to become detrimental to one’s daily life.

“We usually compare ourselves to influencers and many more things. For example, when I decide to go on Instagram for a few minutes, I eventually find myself spending an hour or more because of the endless posts that catch my interest.

We often lose ourselves while scrolling and swapping on these platforms, that’s where our insecurities start surfacing and we start thinking we are not good enough because of likes and views. However, we can also use social media to promote your business, for motivation and branding.”

Mr Mpumalanga, Abednico Mabaso added that social media has assisted him to market himself as a brand and is one of the dominating things that has influenced winning the crown.

“Social media has also impacted me in a negative way, the week after my crowning I was trending on Twitter, and some people were saying that I won because I look like a certain celebrity which affected me badly,” he adds.

“Nevertheless, I still believe that it is a good platform where you can market yourself. I use social media to advertise myself and get as many numbers as I can and hopefully get verified.”

Limiting access

Miss Mpumalanga, Lungile Fakude explains that although she can be considered a public figure, she doesn’t use social media to market herself. Most of her time is spent at work, school, and off the screen as much as possible.

“I don’t have time to read or watch the news or have something as basic as a news app. To a certain extent it does help with my procrastination, and I am sure that some of you procrastinate on social media. When you know you have an assignment to do, then you decide to take a few minutes and cool down by scrolling on social media. Before you know it, you are consumed and have spent more time online than you ever intended.

“I am also a student and anxiety does get the best of me, sometimes I go on Instagram to check who posted, with hopes that it might help me cool off. But doing such things aggravates anxiety because seeing people living nice and doing fun things might make me sad because at the time, I am at home siting on my laptop, and I start thinking what am I doing wrong in my life? Social media can also be a good thing, I think we should change the narrative on how we view it, so many of us are seeing it as an escape and so many other positive things”.

Let’s Talk Mental Health and Social Media was a wrap-up event of a series of events that took place over a week-long campaign to help raise awareness during Mental Health Month. The week started with a Mental Health Activation on Monday, Game Day on Tuesday, Mental Health Awareness Day on Wednesday, and Mental Health and Social Media on Thursday.

@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures @Chrisplphoto.