Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - The Department of Social Development has opened its gender-based violence command centre (GBVCC) to matriculants who may be anxious about their matric results, it said on Sunday. 

Matrics of 2019 are set to receive their results on January 8. Reports of depression and suicide tend to increase around this time.  

In an emailed statement, the department urged matriculants and their parents to make use of the command centre to receive counselling and support from trained social workers. 

It also appealed to parents to watch for any signs of depression in their children so that early interventions could be sought.  

"The command centre can be reached toll free on 0800 428 428. Callers can also request a social worker from the command centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone," said the statement.  

Deaf callers could also interact with the centre using Skype. "Just add ‘HELPMEGBV’ to their contacts and a social worker will accept the invite and call back." 

The department also extended well-wishes to the 596 720 social grants beneficiaries who sat for the 2019 examinations.

"The department wishes to remind the grant beneficiaries who will pass and be accepted at institutions of higher learning that they will no longer be means tested by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) when they apply for financial assistance," said the statement.  

Since 2016, the department of social development and NSFAS, together with the department of basic education, had been working to make sure that social grant beneficiaries were automatically accepted by NSFAS when they applied for financial assistance, according to the statement.  

Matriculants were also cautioned by the department to not turn to alcohol to cope with their results. 

"It is also important to remind candidates who would not have succeeded that the 'Second Chance Matric Support Programme' of the department of basic education is available to support learners who want to use a second opportunity to sit for exams. We encourage learners to register at their schools or district offices," said the statement. 

African News Agency (ANA)