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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

A model of resilience – Dr Anja Botha probes into the ability to recover from trauma
2014-12-02

She may have been awarded her doctorate degree only in July 2014, but Psychology lecturer at the University of the Free State (UFS), Dr Anja Botha, is already making a name for herself with her latest research.

Her study aims to develop a model of resilience for South African adolescents exposed to trauma. “The broad field, within which I work, is that of Developmental Psychology, with a specific focus on child and adolescent development and therapy,” says Dr Botha. 

Resilience studies are situated within Developmental Psychology since normal developmental tasks – such as achieving self-confidence and building supportive relationships – contribute greatly to children’s resilience. Resilience broadly refers to the individual’s ability to ‘bounce back’ after being exposed to adversity.

“The model of resilience which I compiled was a good fit for my participant group, indicating that the model explains the development of resilience in these adolescents well. The factors that I found to promote resilience in the South African context include various coping skills, intra- and interpersonal strengths, family involvement, and school engagement.

“Thus, aside from my passion for resilience studies, I am also very much interested in coping, strength-based interventions, parental guidance and school-based programmes.”

Dr Botha was awarded a Donald J Cohen fellowship in August 2014 during the 21st World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists and Allied Professions. The fellowship is in recognition of her work as an emerging international scholar in the field of child and adolescent mental health. This award was based on both her research as well as her involvement in the training of postgraduate students in child psychology.

She is currently supervising a number of master’s students’ research on various constructs related to resilience.

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