Counselling services for students affected by civil unrest and looting

Dr Naidoo

The Student Counselling unit has invited students who may have been severely affected by disturbances of last week to communicate with the unit if they need counselling. Dr Paulette Naidoo, Director of Student Counselling, said the reason for this invitation was that the events of last week were likely to have had an adverse effect on students.

Dr Naidoo said: “Rampant violence, lootings, racial tensions and general unrest and instability of the past few weeks, have left individuals, families and communities vulnerable and traumatized. MUT students are not immune to such events. The recent spate of events is likely to place an additional strain on students’ emotional and psychological functioning and coping resources which are already compromised as a result of COVID-19 and disruptions to the academic programme.”

Dr Naidoo believes that the recent destruction and violence experienced by students has had a profound impact on their sense of safety, security, emotional stability and access to basic resources and necessities. As such, students may experience increased levels of anxiety, distress, fear, confusion, hopelessness, and uncertainty- all of which can affect their emotional and psychological functioning and their reintegration into the academic program as teaching and learning resumes. According to Dr Naidoo, the recent tragic events have ironically occurred during July- the month devoted to mental health awareness. Mindful of this, Dr Naidoo felt it necessary to draw attention to the importance of student mental health and self-care during this tumultuous period.

Dr Naidoo said what the students were going through is likely to have a long-term effect upon them.

The following are the emergency numbers (for after-hours and weekends) for students that need help:

Higher Health: 24-hour toll free helpline:  0800 36 36 36; SMS 43336

Lifeline: 0861 322 322;

South African Depression & Anxiety Group (SADAG): 0800 567 567;

SMS: 32312 or WhatsApp: 076 882 2775; Support Groups: 087 278 7047

24 hour helpline:  0800 456 789;

GBV Line: 0800428428