Health and well-being of UP students in the spotlight

Posted on March 07, 2013

The Student Health Services hosted an Open Day on Student Health and Wellness. The main objective of the event was to create awareness on key student health risks that affect students’ potential to achieve their goals. Various representatives from the Department of Health, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), were present to address and interact with the students.


Students were also engaged on various subjects such as relationships, substance abuse, stress, hygiene, family planning, sex addiction, etc.


The Director of Student Affairs at the University of Pretoria, Dr Matete Madiba, said the event is in line with the University’s efforts in dealing with issues affecting students, because one of the main objectives of her department is to initiate programmes or projects which promote a holistic, rather than just an academic relationship with the students. “We want to move away from the remedial curative approach in attending to students when they have health or psychological issues which eventually affect their academic performance. We would also like to sustain this kind of project which is helpful in educating and bringing awareness on various issues to students, and at the same time we would be improving our services to students”, said Dr Madiba.


A representative from the Department of Health, Ms Anne Croasdale, addressed the students and advised them on leading a healthy lifestyle. She said most youth are aware and know how they are supposed to lead their life, especially as students, but they choose to ignore the obvious and subconsciously adopt a peer-pressure ‘ostrich head-in-the-sand’ approach.


“You have control over the modifiable risk factors and I urge you to start leading a healthy lifestyle which entails healthy eating, exercising and abstaining from habits which will make you prone to sicknesses. It is never too late to start, but the longer you delay the harder it becomes”, she said.


Young people recovering from substance abuse representing a fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous and Sex and Love Addiction Anonymous, were also engaging with students and giving advice on how to break from alcohol and drug addiction. They said that it is important for the youth to start looking for solutions now, because help is available. They emphasised that they should not wait for a time when they become responsible adults with family responsibilities.


They said most students start using drugs recreationally, but that it usually escalates into an addiction which is often difficult for students, especially at university or high school, to acknowledge.


Mrs Varosh Nadesan is a trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which is a 12-step fellowship programme for people with alcohol and substance abuse problems. She said the role of AA is to inform the student community at UP of the benefits of living a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle, because they are often vulnerable to any kind of influence.


She said that first-year and second-year students get into universities and experience a lot of pressure adjusting to the institution and their academic workload. They start to experience independence and end up latching onto influential people on campus, and that is when addiction starts.


She said most students recognise their problems and are willing to seek help. “It is important for them to acknowledge or identify whether they have a problem and therefore contact the AA which will be able to assist. There are no membership fees and a student can simply call or send an SMS to AA.”


Students can also approach the psychologists for professional help once they have identified their struggle to cope. The students are encouraged to call UP’s 24-hour toll-free Crisis Line for student support on 080 000 6428.



 Director of Student Affairs at UP, Dr Matete Madiba, addressing the students.

 Students queuing to check their blood group.




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