Money-related stress and anxiety still plague students

University of Pretoria students protesting against proposed increase in fees. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/Independent Media

University of Pretoria students protesting against proposed increase in fees. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/Independent Media

Published Jul 4, 2022


Researchers and analysts believe that we are only now starting to see the real impact that the pandemic has had on young people and students with recent research showing that stress and anxiety is at a disturbing high level.

According to the second annual Insights and Learning Report issued by online crowdfunding platform Feenix, South African university students continue to face an uphill battle and their stress is mostly related to money and access to funds.

According to the report, 43% of university students surveyed have pointed out that they need mental health services but can’t access them. This is an increase from 33% in 2020.

Apart from a lack of critical resources, the impact of the pandemic, remote learning, student debt, and a variety of other socio-economic pressures are all adding to the stress and anxiety levels of students.

Feenix was launched in June 2017 as a response to the #FeesMustFall movement that spread across campuses in South Africa in 2015 and 2016. This movement highlighted the extremely high cost of tertiary education and the impact that financial stress has on a student’s success rates.

Now, the crowdfunding platform is committed to the success of university students by monitoring, learning, and responding to their needs.

Cara-Jean Petersen, the Student Advancement manager at Feenix, explained that financial assistance alone is not enough.

“While access to funding is paramount, so is assistance with other resources like food, accommodation, transport, and data to mitigate the additional stressors that contribute to the mental health challenges seen in tertiary institutions.”

“More than this, mental health and other developmental resources and support are also critically needed,” she said.

Based on the findings of the report, many students responded with feedback that pointed to them going through a state of depression and anxiety because they did not have the funds for their fees and accommodation.

“Despite the many challenges faced over the last two years, South Africans are still resilient. Students even more so,” Petersen said.

“Education leads to economic participation and upward mobility for a growing youth population. With the right support and resources, there is hope to turn the tide on the challenges that prevent thousands of university students from thriving,” she added.

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