To mark mental health awareness month, the student support office is visiting residences and student accommodations to educate students about how to manage stress. 

Forty students turned up for the Wits SRC student support office’s first event to kick off mental health awareness month, on April 25, at Apex Studios Accommodation in Braamfontein.

The mental health drive is a student wellbeing initiative that will see SRC student support officer, Lisa Sibaca and a team of various panellists going to different student accommodations and residences to discuss mental health. 

At Apex Studios, each of the five panellists tackled a different topic relating to mental health in an interactive discussion that saw students asking questions and engaging in conversation with the panellists.

First was SRC student support member, Thato Lebitso, who addressed a topic that most students in the audience felt strongly about as it received a lot of interaction and feedback from the audience – “burnout syndrome”. He described it as “unsuccessfully managed chronic stress”.   

Lebitso explained that, although all students deal with stress, not all students deal with burnout syndrome. The key factor which distinguishes the two is the way stress is managed.  He said stress was a natural part of life and of being a student as there were always deadlines to meet or exams and tests to plan for.

However, when students do not manage their stress in a healthy way and plan their activities and obligations in detail, this leads to chronic stress which could possibly lead to burnout, Lebitso said. He identified six steps that students could implement to manage stress and avoid burnout.

Thato Lebitso’s six steps to manage stress and to avoid burnout. Infographic: Terri-Ann Brouwers

This resonated with one of the students in attendance, Lebogang Sekhitlu (23) who said, “Once you can identify [burnout], I think you can limit the harm it does.”

The drive will continue till Tuesday, May 16, and staff from the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) would take part, so that students could be aware of the resources available to them.   

“It is very easy to blame a student for not working or performing academically, but they’re suffering in terms of their mental health, so, we’re here to offer solutions,” said Sibaca.   Omphile Seqhee (19), Apex Studios’ well-being and outreach student life intern, told Wits Vuvuzela that she was more than happy to collaborate with the SRC student support office by bringing the drive to their accommodation. She was happy that students got tips on how to deal with academic stress as that is what causes students to have the most mental health struggles.

FEATURED IMAGE: SRC student support officer, Lisa Sibaca, and her team of panellists engage with the audience at a mental health drive event at Apex Studio Accommodation, Braamfontein. Photo: Terri-Ann Brouwers