In a report compiled by the co-ordinator of Stellenbosch University medical school residences on their Tygerberg campus, student mental health issues students featured prominently. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - In a report compiled by the co-ordinator of Stellenbosch University medical school residences on their Tygerberg campus, student mental health issues students featured prominently among the daily struggles they were facing.

Njabulo Maphumulo said taking up the post in July, he had a number of meetings with stakeholders on campus highlighting the gaps and needs of the students.

“Mental health is one of the big issues to which we’ve not paid enough attention,” he said, adding that their centre for student counselling and development was always fully booked.

He said students dealt with a lot, “like academics, social and family issues as well as peer pressure”. Other issues were student safety, food security and transformation.

Maphumulo said the key to solving all of this would be a strong engagement with students and leaders.

“One of the biggest issues facing residences is transformation. This university is over 100 years old and has kept up some traditions which may no longer be relevant.

“Another issue is food security. Just because someone has a bursary doesn’t mean they have enough money for food. We have programmes, such as the Pantry Project, but need to enhance them.”

On security in the residences, Maphumulo said: “It’s a shared responsibility among students, their leaders and relevant staff members.

“If we commit to have a safer and more conducive environment, everyone will have to play their role. As the cluster head, I’ve already started conversations with students about promoting a safe campus and what their role will be. At this stage safety is a priority for residences and action plans are being put in place.”

Luyanda Nzama, a second-year, bachelor of medicine and surgery student, Primaria of the Hippo residence, supported Maphumulo’s idea to deal with mental health, and said the university must deploy more psychologists to its campuses.

Kayla Phillips, spokesperson, for the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, said they received around 600 calls a day from people all over the country needing help for mental health issues, many of them students.

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