MEDIA STATEMENT: Student Mental Health Programme

#therightfrequency

Thursday, 26 July 2018, Randburg – The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Mental Health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. Even though many South African Higher Education institutions (Universities, TVET colleges) provide Student Support Services, under which Mental Health usually falls, not all students are able to access these services. Learners in primary and high schools have far less access to that kind of support especially those from poor and marginalised communities.

In 2015 World leaders concluded “the promotion of mental health and well-being, and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, as health priorities within the global agenda” for the Sustainable Development Goals. WHO estimates that about 800 000 people die due to suicide annually. While not everyone who is depressed, or suffering from any other mental health difficulty is necessarily suicidal, people with suicidal ideation and/or plan are known to have suffered from one form of mental disorder or another.

WHO further estimates that the second biggest killer of young people between ages 15 and 29 is suicide. This clearly demonstrates the fact that young people are vulnerable to mental health challenges. In South Africa young people face many challenges: from unemployment, drug and alcohol problems, HIV, and growing up under very challenging socio-economic challenges which include poverty and inequality. Academic pressures from Matric results to accessing, adjusting to and performing at tertiary institutions further predispose young people to high stress levels with some students developing depression and other mental health challenges.

Students continue to experience a whole range of mental related issues. Even though many basic or higher education institutions provide on-campus health services, students are not fully utilising these support structures because of advocacy and awareness challenges.

GradesandLevelsSA is an independent organisation that is not affiliated or associated with a specific academic institution. Our aim is to enhance the current health services that are provided to students in basic and higher education institutions and equip them with skills to be actively involved in designing responsive interventions. This is the company’s key Corporate Social Investment initiative. It is the company’s commitment to enhance what tertiary institutions, government departments, civil society organisations, and other role players currently offer.

Our organisation will provide a free, world-class online and offline 24 hour, 7 days a week counselling service which will be equipped with consultation and examinations rooms including mobile clinics. The programme will look to address adjusting to school or college and university, bullying, trauma and crisis intervention, rape and sexual assault, substance abuse, stress and anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings, loss and bereavement, family problems, relationship issues, academic problems including under-performance, self-esteem and confidence building issues, sexual identity issues, living with disability and caring for the disabled as well as independence from parents. The organisation has employed Mr Mthetho Tshemese and Dr Lunga Khumalo and a number of social workers including student peer counsellors.

Furthermore, we shall be embarking on forming targeted partnerships which include relevant government departments including Basic and Higher Education, youth based organisations and societies, mental wellness support services, just to name a few. This is in line with WHO’s Mental Health ATLAS (2017) suggesting that the Mental Health Action Plan (2013-2020) can meet the global targets set for member states and the call for: “Collective Global Commitment that leads to substantial investment and expanded efforts at Country level for Mental Health Policies, Laws, Programmes and services across all member states”.

GradesandLevelsSA is an independent organisation that is not affiliated or associated with a specific academic institution. Our aim is to enhance the current health services that are provided to students in basic and higher education institutions and equip them with skills to be actively involved in designing responsive interventions. This is the company’s key Corporate Social Investment initiative. It is the company’s commitment to enhance what tertiary institutions, government departments, civil society organisations, and other role players currently offer. Our organisation will provide a free, world-class online and offline 24 hour, 7 days a week counselling service which will be equipped with consultation and examinations rooms including mobile clinics. The programme will look to address adjusting to school or college and university, bullying, trauma and crisis intervention, rape  and sexual assault, substance abuse, stress and anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings, loss and bereavement, family problems, relationship issues, academic problems including under-performance, self-esteem and confidence building issues, sexual identity issues, living with disability and caring for the disabled as well as independence from parents. The organisation has employed Mr Mthetho Tshemese and Dr Lunga Khumalo and a number of social workers including student peer counsellors.

Furthermore, we shall be embarking on forming targeted partnerships which include relevant government departments including Basic and Higher Education, youth based organisations and societies, mental wellness support services, just to name a few. This is in line with WHO’s Mental Health ATLAS (2017) suggesting that the Mental Health Action Plan (2013-2020) can meet the global targets set for member states and the call for: “Collective Global Commitment that leads to substantial investment and expanded efforts at Country level for Mental Health Policies, Laws, Programmes and services across all member states”.

Last but not least, our organisation believes that media professionals have a role to play in reporting responsibly on Mental Health matters particularly in helping South Africans fight against the stigma associated with Mental Health challenges and promote a public discourse that encourages young people to seek help.

The organisation has established 3 Call Centres in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. 100 employees will be part of the maiden journey whilst 900 employees will be trained and employed in the next 30 days.

Our company is delighted to be working with the South African Union of Students and we call on basic and higher education to consider inclusion of mental health as a major subject from Grade R to all under graduate studies.


 

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