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Emotional safety during examinations

Mid-year exams have begun and with crunch time comes emotional upheaval. However, it is manageable and should not deter you from the end-goal of succeeding in your studies while maintaining high mental health standards.

“The exam period is a time when stress and anxiety levels are higher than usual. Stress can be positive and help you stay motivated and focused. However, too much stress can be unhelpful and can make you feel overwhelmed, confused, exhausted and edgy,” says Dr Melissa Barnaschone, Director of Student Counselling and Development at the University of the Free State (UFS).

According to Helpguide.Org: Trusted guide to mental & emotional health, “Mental and emotional health is about being happy, self-confident, self-aware, and resilient. People who are mentally healthy are able to cope with life’s challenges and recover from setbacks. But mental and emotional health requires knowledge, understanding, and effort to maintain. If your mental health isn’t as solid as you’d like it to be, here’s the good news: there are many things you can do to boost your mood, build resilience, and get more enjoyment out of life.”

For further details on topics including: Building Better Mental Health, Emotional Intelligence Toolkit, Benefits of Mindfulness, Improving Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Cultivating Happiness, visit the Help Guide. 

Dr Barnaschone has a few tips on how Kovsies can better approach academic anxiety during the examination period. Here is what she has to say:

News Archive

Up to 60% of students do not have enough to eat
2013-11-15

 

15 November 2013

A report of the University of the Free State has revealed the shocking statistics that almost two-thirds of the students at the university don’t have enough money to buy food, and suffer from hunger during terms.

The study, conducted internally by the university’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, was a response to a growing international concern that students worldwide were not getting enough to eat. While studies were conducted in the USA and Australia, no similar research has been done in South Africa.

“There have been many studies on the impact of poor nutrition on school kids,” says Dr Louise van den Berg, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, “but almost no research on university students. South Africa is, overall, a food-insecure country, and the university wanted to establish how widespread this problem is among our students.”

The reasons given by students invariably referred to a lack of money, as many students were also supporting families. Some students admitted they lacked the knowledge to feed themselves properly, some admitted to borrowing money to buy food, and some even admitted to stealing food to survive.

“This research has confirmed something we have suspected for a long time,” Dr van den Berg states.

A number of students disclosed that they were reluctant to resort to the university feeding scheme, as they were ashamed to admit they did not have money to buy food.

This study is the first of its kind in South Africa, and underlines the fact that tertiary students are particularly vulnerable when it comes to food security. Often a student has to juggle their studies with their role as breadwinner.

A tiny ray of hope to students who find themselves as food insecure, is the No Student Hungry Programme that offers a food bursary to qualifying students.

This programme, initially established by Prof Jonathan Jansen, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, and now managed by Grace Jansen and Karen Buys, offers a small allowance of about R30 per day to hungry students with an average academic achievement of 60% and above. This criterion discourages entitlement thinking and builds a strong sense of responsibility on the part of those who benefit from the food bursary.

Melanie, a second-year Geography and Environmental Management student, as well as a single mother, is a beneficiary of the NSH Programme. “This bursary helps me to get a balanced meal every day. It is one less worry for me. I dream of completing my studies so that I can be independent and provide my son with the life he deserves.”

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