While the university’s face-to-face counselling sessions remain available during office hours, the app offers 24-hour support, seven days a week.
Wits University has taken to Twitter to promote its internet-based application in response to a surge in the number of students seeking counselling from the Wits Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU).
The app provides 24-hour support through an anonymous chat function that connects students to counsellors outside of the CCDU hours.
The app is offered as an option alongside CCDU’s crisis line by International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS). Called ICAS On-the-Go, it can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
Within the larger ICAS On-the-Go app, students can access the Wits side of the app using the supplied company code: WIT001.
“This option is for those students who prefer to have counselling via texting, and for students needing help after hours, or for immediate crisis or counselling containment,” said Shameen Naidu, a psychologist and therapy services team leader at the CCDU.
“We have been increasingly inundated with emails from students requesting therapy since the end of February,” she added.
With the increase in students needing help and the limited time and places available for consultations with the CCDU, this app provides the support that students are calling for in the interim.
Naidu said that students can still access the CCDU therapy services, including one-on-one counselling sessions, group therapy, workshops and trauma debriefings. These work on a system of booking ahead.
Nqobile Mkhize, a BCom honours student in business finance, has had an overall positive experience with the app because of the counsellors’ 24-hour availability, along with their advice being both quick and helpful.
“Breakdowns unfortunately don’t have a schedule and this alternative to CCDU is a necessary lifeline particularly at odd times,” she told Wits Vuvuzela.
The only shortfall that Mkhize has faced with the app is that if it kicks you out, you have to start afresh with a new counsellor. “Unfortunately, when in distress this can be very disheartening,” she says.
Naidu said that the CCDU was unaware of this glitch. “Any problems with the app need to be reported to CCDU and we will forward this for urgent attention to ICAS to resolve.”
FEATURED IMAGE: A student using the ICAS On-the-Go crisis app. Photo: Jessica Bunyard
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