Universities must prioritise support for student mental health

Universities must prioritise support for student mental health


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The South African data also show that 20.8% of first-year students had experienced anxiety and 13.6% had experienced depression. Additionally, they found that 30.6% of students had thoughts of suicide in the past 12 months, 16.6% had made a suicide plan and 2.4% had attempted suicide.

These rates are markedly higher than rates typically found among students in other parts of the world. There are no accurate data about the number of students in South Africa who complete suicide. But anecdotal evidence suggests that deaths as a result of suicide among students in South Africa are a cause for concern.

Because of the link between mental health problems like depression and anxiety and thoughts of suicide, it’s important to promote student mental health as part of universities mental health prevention programmes.

“Covid-19 and the lockdown has affected many South Africans, and it has had a serious impact on people living with a mental health issue often making their symptoms more heightened. SADAG (SA Depression and Anxiety Group) has been receiving calls from people with no history of anxiety or depression who are feeling overwhelmed, anxious and stressed,” said Sadag’s operations director, Cassey Chambers.

Fewer than a third of students who need psychological support receive the care they need. As part of its students’ mental welfare initiatives, Stadio Higher Education has ongoing mental health and wellness programmes running throughout the year, as well as monthly invitations to students to attend mental health webinars and info sessions by Sadag.

“Understanding the importance of mental health and wellbeing is key to the development of a well-balanced, successful and happy human being. A holistic perspective between body and mind creates a higher level of living fully conscious as well as accurate discernment of one’s emotions,” said Thea Coetzee, Stadio’s head of student support and wellness

“At Stadio we make it our mission to educate our students on the importance of mental wellbeing by offering community engagement on mental wellness.”.

If you are a student suffering from mental health, visitwww.sadag.org or their 24-hour helpline on 0800 456 789.

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