AS Filipinos embrace digitalization to thrive in the new normal, finding and maintaining the right balance between online and offline activities is imperative in achieving a positive well-being.
Dr. Jason Ligot, MPH, Promotions and Communications Consultant of the World Health Organization (WHO), explained the mental and physical health risks of excessive usage of digital platforms, particularly on social media, can include poor sleep, physical inactivity, and mental distress.
Ligot is the guest speaker at the eighth episode of TAYO Naman! (Tulong, Alaga, Yakap at Oras para sa mga Tagapagtaguyod ng Edukasyon), a webinar series by Globe and the Department of Education with the topic “Promoting Digital Well-Being.”
“Ang sinasabi natin ay may mga pagkakataon na masyado nang excessive o hindi na nakakatulong ’yung time o panahon na ginugugol natin online sa ating mental health. If you have poor physical health, that will have a negative impact on your mental health as well. The key aspect here is finding a balance between our offline and online lives. That is the key to maintaining well-being. This is our reality now,” Ligot said.
Being mentally healthy does not mean being happy all the time. Changes in mood are a part of daily life. “Being mentally healthy means that you are having enough sleep, you are physically well, you are full of energy that you can devote to various activities of your daily life, your performance at work is consistent, and you are socially active, you maintain relationships with people who are close to you,” he added.
Some red flags indicating social media’s negative effects on one’s mental health include interference with work, using it to escape destructive emotions, experiencing trolling and bullying, spending more time online than with other people, and heightened feelings of anxiety and depression.
To prevent these from happening, Ligot suggested limiting screen time, avoiding mean comments, being mindful of the platform used, focusing on existing connections, finding other hobbies, and spreading the love by engaging people in productive and helpful ways.
While there are many risks, digital platforms also offer several potential benefits if used properly. Ligot said these platforms could facilitate interaction among individuals to help them cope with their present situations, make them feel less lonely, and find the right support networks. When his father passed away due to Covid-19, Ligot said they could not gather physically to console each other. Through digital platforms, even relatives and friends who live in different parts of the world were able to connect with the family and ease the emotional burden of the loss. Moreover, digital platforms can be used for entertainment to relieve stress, promote health services like teleconsulting, and encourage mental health literacy for people to understand and make better choices towards their health.
The TAYO Naman! episode, hosted by the DepEd Schools Division Office of Tacloban City, was led by the DepEd Disaster Risk Reduction Management Services and the Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development Employee Welfare Division in collaboration with Globe’s Global Filipino Teachers Series on Psychosocial Support Services, Philippine Mental Health Association, MAGIS Creative Spaces.
TAYO Naman! is an online Mental Health and Psychosocial Support program designed to help teachers, non-teaching personnel, and parents learn about self-care, wellness, and resiliency.