The rising influence of social media on the mental health of young adults has garnered significant attention. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi revealed that the Mental Health Crisis Helpline, HEAL 15555, received over 48,000 calls related to suicidal behavior from 2022 until June this year. Ahmad Zahid, who chairs the National Social Council, noted an increase in reported suicide cases last year, totaling 1,087 compared to 981 cases the previous year.

This alarming trend has sparked a broader conversation about the need for tougher laws against cyberbullying and more substantial support for individuals with suicidal thoughts. Numerous studies indicate a connection between heavy social media use and feelings of isolation. Researchers are investigating whether social media use drives isolation or if isolation propels individuals to seek solace in social media, thereby depriving them of real-life interactions.

Many users experience a sense of exclusion as they witness seemingly perfect interactions and lives on social media, leading to feelings of inadequacy. This phenomenon underscores the need for effective strategies to curb social media addiction and its negative impact on mental health.

Ways to Curb Social Media Addiction

1. Discipline and Self-Control: Set time limits on social media usage and remain mindful of emotional responses to avoid being overwhelmed.

2. Physical Separation from Devices: Encourage engagement in activities that do not involve smartphones to foster real-life social interactions and entertainment.

3. Regular Exercise and Physical Activity: Exercise releases dopamine, which can compensate for reduced dopamine levels due to decreased social media use.

4. Remove Apps and Turn Off Notifications: Limiting access to social media by removing apps from smartphones and turning off notifications can help reduce usage.

5. Planned Breaks from Social Media: Take regular breaks from social media, ranging from a day to a month, to maintain a healthy balance. Use this time to engage in face-to-face interactions with family and friends.

Controlled and balanced use of social media is crucial. Frequent breaks and clear boundaries can harness the advantages of social media while mitigating its downsides. For severe cases of addiction or uncertainty, seeking professional help is recommended to diagnose and manage mental health issues, preventing adverse consequences. Pharmacotherapy may be suggested for extreme cases by experts.

If you are feeling lonely, distressed, or experiencing negative thoughts, Befrienders offers free and confidential support 24 hours a day.

- Befrienders Malaysia: [](

- Talian Kasih: 15999 (24/7)

- Talian BuddyBear: 1800-18-2327 (daily 12pm-12am)

- Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service: 03-2935 9935 or 014-322 3392

- Jakim’s Family, Social and Community Care Centre: WhatsApp 0111-959 8214

Source : Malay Mail, NST - Anesthesiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine, AIMST University