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Mental health status of South African students is shocking

“We are seeing increases in mental health challenges worldwide – more stress, more anxiety, more depression and more suicides,” Kevin Kruger, president of the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education or NASPA, told University World News.

The state of the mental health of students at tertiary institutions has become a major crisis in South Africa – as well as the rest of the world. One of the biggest challenges relating to this crisis is that the magnitude of the issue is often neglected or ignored at national and local level. In South Africa we are faced with so many other challenges when it comes to the Education sector, that often no systems are put in place to identify and treat students who are suffering from mental illnesses.

In 2017, a study by UCT brought to light that at least 12% of university students exhibit “moderate to severe symptoms of depression.” And stats indicate that these figures are rising. In the UK, reports show that at least 27% of UK students have some form of mental health challenge.

These concerning figures reiterate the importance of tackling mental health issues at universities and colleges. In South Africa students face financial constraints, social situations and other challenges that come with adjusting to tertiary education. These stress factors place strain on the mental health of to their students.

While developing policies and task teams to address mental health at universities and colleges are great initiatives, more can be done to monitor mental health on campus. There is a solution in the form of an automated system. A system that not only monitors existing cases, but flags potential cases and offers data and insights that help tertiary institutions identify potential risks before tragedy strikes. 

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