Cyberbullying students with mental health issues

A lot of us can agree that deteriorating mental health was one of the most devastating consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mental health issues became a top concern for many that even governments said no to a full movement control order (MCO) despite the surging number of Covid-19 cases earlier this year. Some companies took a step further to address the problem by announcing a temporary closure to allow their staff to take a break from work.

Although mental health awareness is steadily growing among Malaysians, there are still some who think it’s a non-issue and make light of worrying situations. This occupational therapist highlighted how we can do better as a society after she found netizens cyberbullying students suffering from mental health issues during the pandemic.

Occupational therapist asks netizens to quit cyberbullying

School students
Image credit: Media Rasmi SMK Kota Kemuning (for illustration purposes only)

On 19th November 2021, occupational therapist Siti ‘Aisyah Rozalli took to Facebook to express her dissatisfaction seeing how openly Malaysians were bullying cyberbully school students who are facing mental health challenges due to home-based learning (PdPR) and having exams immediately upon returning to school.

Aisyah called out the many Malaysian adults who claim to be the “big brothers and sisters” but are condemning students for not being able to cope well with recent changes that’s left many grappling with uncertainty. In one of the screenshots shared by Aisyah, people left comments telling a student to become sugar babies or anak ikan and asking them to quit school and stay at home if they can’t cope.

Facebook comments bullying students mental health issues
Image credit: Siti ‘Aisyah Rozalli

Enraged by the comments, Aisyah questioned why can’t people be empathetic adults towards children who are dealing with a serious problem that should be addressed.

“We are mature adults. Why can’t we be more empathetic towards these students?” she asked.

“Don’t we know that these students are facing a different kind of challenge? Our job as adults is to try to understand [these challenges] [and] not cyberbully them” she wrote.

Aisyah explained that as she was reading the comment section further, she was shocked by the recent incident of a Form 5 student jumping off a school building after the SPM examinations that was reported by Astro Awani on 18th November.

She said school students nowadays deal with a lot of pressure from different people which lead them to commit suicide.

“When we hear the news about these students committing suicide we feel pity for them. But when they are crying for help all we do is to make fun of them. Please be good adults. Don’t be toxic,” Aisyah said.

Therapist explains how to help students with mental health issues

students mental health issues
Image credit: Siti ‘Aisyah Rozalli

Hours later, Aisyah proceeded to update another Facebook post explaining the reasons why children are stressed out when learning. She listed out the common problems children face in learning and highlighted how bad parenting skills hinder them from performing well academically.

Aisyah questioned parents who often complain about their children spending too much time playing video games, scrolling through TikTok and procrastinating homework if they have played a part in educating their children about their responsibilities and priorities as a student.

“Have you thought them about how to organise time wisely? Did we [parents] teach them about their priorities and responsibilities as students?” she asked, highlighting that it’s the parents who have the bigger role to play in their children’s education and overall development.

“Parents are a child’s biggest educators. Good parenting is not just about looking after your child’s physical well-being but organising their life journey and teaching them about what’s right and wrong,” Aisyah said.

Students facing mental health challenges in Malaysia

It’s shocking to know how some people still don’t see the negative effects of mental breakdowns on a person and choose to criticise them openly on social media. Such practices should never be tolerated as they can lead to further damage to the victims.

As adults, we should practise great empathy and guide children who are equally affected by the pandemic whenever they need help.

If professional intervention is required, refer them to a counselling and mental health service that can assist them during difficult times in their lives.

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Cover image adapted from: Media Rasmi SMK Kota Kemuning (for illustration purposes only) and Siti ‘Aisyah Rozalli

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