Did The ‘Bogeyman’ Spread Awareness on Mental Health in Syria?

A social media platform with Syrian roots, Al-bo'bo, sheds light on psychological hardships in a society where these topics are taboo.

A social media platform with Syrian roots, Al-bo’bo, sheds light on psychological hardships in a society where these topics are taboo.

The idea of a traditional bogeyman called in Arabic Al-bo’bo was used to scare misbehaving children. Although the name suggests one thing, the concept behind it is completely different.

The Emergence of the Concept

The question is, why would such a platform be named after a bogeyman, or what is called in Arabic, Al-bo’bo? The idea of bullying is a horrifying one for children, especially the ones that have been bullied. The name of the platform was inspired and emerged from these experiences of bullying.

The UAE- based Syrian tech entrepreneur Ghaith Sandouk (29-year-old) was a victim of online bullying founded the online platform to help people who have been through similar experiences.

However, despite its frightening and intimidating appearance, Mr. Sandouk stated, “As awareness grows about the nature of cyberbullying and the motives behind it, [Al-bo’bo] shrinks back to its real size.”

Mr. Sandouk stated, “If social media platforms are used for cyberbullying, then it can also be used to create awareness.”

The content’s suggestions for overcoming a variety of mental health issues, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, and upholding healthy relationships, captivate users.

Al-bo’bo stands out in a country where there are few resources for psychological support because it gives young Syrians impacted by the 2011 civil war hope.

Despite having less than 60,000 Facebook and Instagram followers, Mr. Sandouk, who was named one of the 21 Arab Youth Pioneers by the UAE-based Arab Youth Centre for Digital Innovation in 2023, asserts that Al-bo’bo’s content has reached about 2.1 million people.

Where to Access Al-bo’bo

Al bo’bo is available on Facebook and Instagram, it is a volunteer-run, youth-led non-profit initiative.

Mr. Sandouk mentioned to insidetelcom that “I chose to have Al-bo’bo on social media platforms because it is accessible to all, at the end of the day the bo’bo is for everyone by everyone.”

The organizers claim that it creates easily readable digital content in a vernacular Arabic dialect and uses social media influencers to spread its message.

Al-bo’bo, a Syrian-based nonprofit organization run by 25 volunteers, is a platform for writers, graphic designers, and mental health professionals to create online posts that bring attention to various issues, including cyberbullying.

The Statistics

According to a World Health Organization report from 2021, one in five residents of areas affected by conflict has a psychological disorder.

In a survey of 3,326 Syrians, it was discovered that over 83% of them had symptoms of depression, and nearly 70% had symptoms of anxiety.

Now, Mr. Sandouk and his group hope to establish a mental health facility that will motivate Syrians to confront hate speech and bullying.

In a broken nation like Syria, the platform is needed in all its shapes and forms to emotionally educate the children of today because they are the future of tomorrow.

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