UFH wraps up Mental Health Month with Wellness Fair

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Thursday 28 October 2021 will be remembered with fondness by staff in the Student Counselling Unit (SCU) and the UFH student community at large.

To mark the end of Mental Health Awareness month (October), the SCU collaborated with various units under the Student Affairs Department and hosted a first-of-its-kind Wellness Fair at the new Student Centre on the university’s Alice campus.

The objective of Mental Health Month is not limited to raising awareness but also aims to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people with mental illness are often subjected to.

According to a poll conducted by UNICEF recently, 65% of young people stated that they had some form of a mental health issue but did not seek help.

The poll results found that more than a quarter of respondents did not think their mental health problem was serious enough to seek support, while 20% did not know where to get help and 18% were afraid of what people would think. Increased poverty and a lack of hope for the future, top the reasons given for children and young people’s anxiety.

Explaining the background to the event, Ms Thobeka Msengana, SCU Manager said:

“We felt that the year has been filled with a lot of tragic incidents. Our students have experienced a lot of trauma and we saw it necessary to have a moment of relaxation where we are not gathered because of tragedy. We want to say to our students, you have come this far and survived, we want to emphasize that as you approach exams it is important to take care of your mental health and wellness.”

Through the SCU, the university has developed several awareness programmes to stamp out the stigma attached to mental health.  These include adopting a culture of talking about mental health-related issues. Ongoing discussions are held through web seminars and res-talks, where trained counsellors go into student residences to speak about an array of issues related to mental health.

During the fair, participants learnt about mental health by visiting information stalls and taking part in fun and games.  There was a fitness boot camp, a photo booth and lots of opportunities to win prizes.