As tertiary students across the country start their end-of-year exam preparations, many universities and organisations that provide them with holistic support are using October to highlight the increasing need for active mental health intervention in this complex space. Fundi is one of the companies driving robust engagement with students across its platforms on how and where best it can assist – emphasising the critical link between wellness and student success, and the importance of being able to access help when it’s needed most.
While conversations around mental health and wellness are becoming more common in student spaces, student organisations and bodies are clear that these need to become more frequent, especially in the build-up to exams. “Our interactions and engagements with students across our Fundi and FundiConnect platforms continue confirming this,” notes Bulelwa Tutani, Stakeholder and Partner Relations Manager: Fundi. “Students are becoming more concerned with their own wellness – seeing the clear link between this and their overall success. They want to know how to maintain and support their overall health and wellbeing: emotional, mental and spiritual. Very importantly, they also want to know what help is available to them – and how to access this.”
She notes that for many students, opening up about mental health issues in particular requires exceptional courage and trust – making access to information the starting point for these conversations. “Easy-to-understand resources need to be made more available to students across the platforms they connect with most. In many instances, checklists can be exceptionally useful: by simply testing energy levels, concentration and even things like mental ability and optimism, students can start to recognise if they might need help – and reach out for it.”
It’s equally important to support the teachers, tutors and lecturers assisting the students in their care. “Research has shown that depression can be associated with lower marks – with anxiety in the build-up to exams exacerbating this. Teachers and lecturers need to know what to look out for so that they can extend support to students in need, catching these issues timeously and helping students to break these destructive cycles.”
All of these speaks to a much broader and more informed view of the dynamics associated with “student success”. “The more we engage in this space with students across our platforms and offerings, the better we understand the holistic support that is required throughout a student’s ‘complete’ journey. Our BSP offering for example, now includes psychosocial support – ensuring students are connected to peers and professionals who can meet them ‘where they’re at’ no matter the background they’re from as they adapt to the new requirements of tertiary life.”
She adds that in support of Mental Health Awareness Month, Fundi is making a range of related resources and information available, including through webinars and online events. “Students and student supporters should visit our website for details about how they can further empower themselves in this space and/ or support others,” says Tutani. “We remain committed to adding value wherever we can throughout the student journey – and moving students even closer to current and future success.”