Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted on September 27, 2019

The University of Pretoria’s Student Counselling Unit will roll out mental health and wellness campaigns throughout the month of October. These campaigns are aimed at reaching a wider population in terms of their wellbeing and how they can make themselves resilient and strong in spite of life’s difficulties.

These campaigns will highlight the seriousness of mental health and encourage people, particularly students, to look after themselves. The campaigns have to do with illuminating the things that happen in the student community, such as stress that students are subjected to, be it social, psychosocial, psycho-political and the environment they live in.

According to Dr Linda, Acting Head of Department: Student Counselling Unit, “it is not only academics that can make students prone to mental health issues, but their personal relationships with friends/families etc that can impact on their wellness, and impact on how they function. Everyone can get ill anytime, our genes can switch at any moment given the circumstance. It is also important that people know the difference between mental illness and mental health issues”. 

The month of October was declared Mental Health Awareness month with the objective of not only educating the public about mental health, but also to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people with mental illness are often subjected to.

Statistics have indicated that an estimated 400 million people worldwide suffer from mental or neurological disorders or from psychosocial problems. These include disorders related to alcohol and drug abuse.

“As the department we want to produce rounded and well-adjusted citizens, not just alumni with degrees, we want people to be true leaders in their filed and to know more than what they have learnt on the book. They must be equipped on how to manage and take care of themselves, how to succeed in their professional lives. They must know that there is going to be stress in their lives at some point. We want to prepare them on how do you mange that, and which signs to lookout for,” said Hanle Kirkcaldy, Clinical psychologist, Student Counselling unit.

If not treated, mental illness can get worse, other conditions include: schizophrenia, dementia, depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.

Ruqayya Seedat, Counselling Psychologist, Student Counselling Unit advises that students should not wait until it is too late, or two days to exams to face mental health related issues. She says certain situations can trigger certain imbalances. If stress is not managed effectively over a period of time, there are high-risk factors involved. Stress can pile up if not treated and the department is aware that they deal with a whole lot, including tests, exams, family problems and not realising that stress put together piles up and influences negatively.

Student Counselling Unit runs a walk in crisis service every day from Monday to Friday. Care line is available 24 hours:  0800 747 747.   

- Author Xolani Mathibela

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences