14 August 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo iStock
Peer support
Group interventions come highly recommended for Kovsies’ wellbeing.

Many university students struggle with mental health challenges   40% of them do not seek help, 80% of them feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities, and 50% of them are so anxious that they struggle academically. These statistics were shared by the National Alliance on Mental Illness as part of research conducted on mental health on university campuses.

Are you struggling to maintain your mental wellbeing? Student Counselling & Development (SCD) has designed various personal development workshops just for you. These are free group interventions available to all registered students of the University of the Free State (UFS).

You are not alone

Peer support makes you see you are not alone and provides you with the opportunity to learn from others. SCD Director, Dr Melissa Barnaschone, highly recommends group intervention   given its two-fold nature which means “you get input from a mental health specialist while also receiving support and tips from your peers”.

Instead of doing crisis management, the sessions are preventive and help to equip students with developmental, academic, and interpersonal skills. Taking precautions empowers students to gain control over stress, anxiety and other challenges, enhancing holistic self-care, managing workload and time and developing emotional intelligence, among other essential life skills.

Bringing mental health to the masses

Dr Barnaschone encourages being proactive in ensuring mental wellbeing. “Don’t wait until things become too overwhelming before you try to fix them.” Qualified mental health practitioners are at your service. All you have to do is pay a visit to the SCD office for a screening and set up an appointment.

On camaraderie and companionship

Tshepang Mahlatsi, mental health activist and the founder of Next Chapter, believes that peer support is a powerful dismantler of the idea that conversations need to happen in isolation, behind closed doors. “Group interventions create communities that face similar problems, devise strategies to solve these problems, while forging friendships. In a group setting we realise that there is nothing new under the sun and we are experiencing the same situation in varying intensities.”

Engaging your peers can help you beat the statistics. Help SCD help you. Email scd@ufs.ac.za or call +27 51 401 2853 at the Bloemfontein Campus, +27 51 505 1403 at the South Campus and +27 58 718 5033 at the Qwaqwa Campus.

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