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Universities must prioritise support for student mental health

Less than a third of students who need psychological support receive the care they need

22 September 2021 - 16:00
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Stadio aims to educate its students on the importance of mental wellbeing by offering community engagement on mental wellness.
Stadio aims to educate its students on the importance of mental wellbeing by offering community engagement on mental wellness.
Image: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

According to the World Health Organisation, more than 30% of university students have experienced a common mental disorder in the past year. SA data also shows 20.8% of first-year students had experienced anxiety and 13.6% had experienced depression.

They also found 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 higher than rates typically found among students in other parts of the world. There is no accurate data about the number of students in SA who complete suicide, but anecdotal evidence suggests that deaths as a result of suicide among students in SA is concerning.

Because of the link between mental health problems such as 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 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,” says Sadag’s operations director Cassey Chambers.

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

Understanding the importance of mental health and wellbeing is important for 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.

At Stadio, our mission is to educate our students on the importance of mental wellbeing by offering community engagement on mental wellness, says Thea Coetzee, Stadio’s head of student support and wellness.

If you’re a student suffering from mental health, help is available: visit the Sadag website or call the 24-hour helpline on 080-045-6789.

This article was paid for by Stadio.

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