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14 June 2018 Photo Supplied
Next Chapter Green Ribbon campaign addresses mental health
Members of Next Chapter and UFS Student counselling are working together to address mental health issues.

Next Chapter, a student support group at the UFS presented the Green Ribbon campaign, pledging their support to students and providing them with assistance in coping with life events that stimulate stress and contribute negatively to their mental health. The team aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health care, and continually assist students with mental health-related issues that they struggle with daily.

The Green Ribbon represents mental health awareness, which is a pressing matter for students and is the type of support students need in a stressful university environment. The campaign focuses on teaching students how to cope with life events that stimulate stress, and contribute negatively to their mental health.
 
A discussion by Dr Ancel George: practising clinical psychologist and lecturer from the UFS Department of Psychology, and Dr Mellissa Barnaschone: Director of UFS Student Counselling, took place, where talks were prominent about creating an inclusive environment for UFS students.

The panel shared a few tips on how students should work towards managing stress, and motivated them for the main mid-year examinations.
 
The follow-up Exam Cram Workshop, presented by Nadia Cloete and Lize Wolmarans, that combined time and stress management, took place on 2 June 2018, and saw students receiving advice on how to approach various issues during the examination period.
 
Mental health awareness does not end with the campaign and Next Chapter’s slogan “Your story continues” encourages students to regularly wear and commemorate the green ribbon in support of continual mental healthcare.
 
Should you have any enquiries or input for the ongoing campaign, contact the Next Chapter team on ufsnextchapter@gmail.com, or further email Tshepang Mahlatsi, founder of Next Chapter on tshepangmahlatsi767@gmail.com

News Archive

Students receive hands-on crime scene investigation training
2016-09-02

Description: Crime scene investigation training Tags: Crime scene investigation training

Ntau Mafisa, a forensic science honours student
at the UFS, and Captain Samuel Sethunya from
the SAPS Crime Scene Management in
Bloemfontein.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

With murder and robbery rates on the rise, the Forensic Science Programme of the Department of Genetics at the University of the Free State is playing a key role in training South Africa’s future crime scene investigators and forensic laboratory analysts.

According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), murder and aggravated robbery rates for 2014/2015, as recorded by the South African Police Services (SAPS) have increased. Incidents of murder increased by 4.6% in the period from 2013/2014 to 2014/2015 and aggravated robbery increased by 8.5 % in the same period. The ISS is an African organisation thant enhances human security by providing independent and authoritative research, expert policy advice and capacity building.

Dr Ellen Mwenesongole, a forensic science lecturer at the Department of Genetics, said the university was one of a few universities in South Africa that actually had a forensic science programme, especially starting from undergraduate level.

Crime scene evaluation component incorporated in curriculum
As part of its Forensic Science Honours Programme, the department has, for the first time, incorporated a mock crime scene evaluation component in its curriculum. Students process a mock crime scene and are assessed based on how closely they follow standard operating procedures related to crime scenes and subsequent laboratory analysis of items of possible evidential value.

The mock crime scene forms part of a research project data collection of the honours students. In these projects students utilise different analytical methods to analyse and distinguish between different types of evidence such as hair fibres, cigarette butts, illicit drugs and dyes extracted from questioned documents and lipsticks.

Students utilise different analytical methods to analyse
and distinguish between different types of evidence.

This year, the department trained the first group of nine students in the Forensic Science Honours Programme. Dr Mwenesongole, who received her training in the UK at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, and Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, said incorporating a crime scene evaluation component into the curriculum was a global trend at universities that were offering forensic science programmes.

Department of Genetics and SAPS collaborate
It is important to add this component to the student’s curriculum. In this way the university is equipping students not only with theoretical knowledge but practical knowledge on the importance of following proper protocol when collecting evidence at crime scenes and analysing it in the laboratory to reduce the risk of it becoming inadmissible in a court of law.

The Genetics Department has a good working relationship with the Forensic Science Laboratory and Free State Crime Scene Management of the Division Forensic Services of the SAPS. The mock crime scene was set up and assessed in collaboration with the Crime Scene Management Division of the SAPS. Although the SAPS provides specialist advanced training to its staff members, the university hopes to improve employability for students through such programmes.

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