Many students are under severe stress, due to many factors including long clinical hours, curriculum overload, exam pressure, poor performance, as well as economic and social difficulties. Students may suffer from depression, anxiety and burnout, resorting to taking medication, substance use and abuse, frequent absenteeism, or other self-destructive coping mechanisms. The staff at the School of Dentistry wanted to show students that they are aware of their struggles and are here to help, not only academically, but also to offer personal support and advice, or direct them to qualified persons who can provide them with life coping mechanisms.
On the 27 September 2019, the School organised a clinic free morning and invited all third, fourth and final year students to a support session themed “We Care”. After a brief introduction by the Acting School Chair, Professor White and the event organiser Prof Leanne Sykes, they were addressed by a team from the Counselling Services at UP. This information session explained where and how students can access emotional and academic help.
Motivational speaker, Mr Nicholas Ingel presented an inspirational talk to the students leaving most attendees teary-eyed. Nicholas has endured adoptions, parental suicides, childhood abuse, and a life-long struggle with alcohol. Not only did he manage to turn his own life around, but then went on to develop his own brand of Youth Upliftment programmes. The programmes are based on taking underprivileged youth, giving them free physical training and motivation, and then helping them gain scholarships and study bursaries. A number of his young men have chosen to stay on and become coaches and together they travel the country giving seminars and training to schools and corporations.
The School will continue with such initiatives to remind students that the Faculty cares and believes in their potential.