Peer Helpers reinvigorate student support

A Peer Helper at one of the student residences

Recognising the role of peers in supporting fellow students, the Student Counselling Unit at the Department of Student Affairs has conducted two programmes to assist students with their academic challenges. The programmes are a result of the department’s recognition of some of the pressures that students face as a result of the COVID-19.

On 2 October 2020, the Peer Helpers set up tables in student residences and invited students to share their concerns and problems. Lungi Mkhize, Student Counsellor at the unit, said the “Friday Table” was being used “as a platform to engage with students on their current adjustment challenges and needs; and to create awareness about the range of student support services and resources available at the Student Counselling Unit.”  This programme happens on Fridays.

In August and September, Peer Helpers conducted a programme that was aimed at supporting University students in residence during Covid-19 Lockdown. ‘Touching Base’, as the programme is called, was run with students at their residences. Lungi said the online programme afforded students the opportunity to discuss topical issues affecting them since their return to University. “Evident from the ‘Touching Base’ programme was that MUT students were experiencing a range of personal, academic and learnership/employment-related anxieties stemming from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. Lungi added that that students and peer helpers were able to share information, and support each other. Students also collectively brainstormed ideas and solutions to their challenges under the supervision and guidance of Student Counsellors in the unit.