Nurturing minds and hearts: Our commitment to mental health

 

Institutions of higher learning are often seen as hubs of academic pursuit and personal development, but they are also places where the mental well-being of students should be prioritised. At Sol Plaatje University (SPU), we recognise the importance of nurturing both the minds and hearts of our students. As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s an opportune time to focus on the significance of mental health in higher education and the holistic approach we take through our Student Wellness Strategy.

The Importance of Celebrating Mental Health in Institutions of Higher Learning

The journey through higher education can be challenging, filled with academic demands, personal transitions, and the pressures of self-discovery. Recognising the emotional toll this can take, SPU acknowledges that the well-being of our students extends beyond the classroom. To foster a positive and nurturing learning environment, it is essential to address not only the intellectual needs but also the emotional and psychological needs of our students. Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month is a testament to our commitment to their overall well-being.

Destigmatising mental health at SPU is of paramount importance, as it not only promotes the well-being of students and staff but also fosters a culture of empathy and support. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-Being – highlights how mental health and well-being are integral components of our overall health. Promoting mental health, preventing mental health disorders, and ensuring access to mental health care are key aspects of achieving this goal. Sol Plaatje University proudly reflects this in its student-centric psychosocial wellness initiatives.

SPU’s Student Wellness Strategy: Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Healthy Life

At the heart of our approach is our Student Wellness Strategy, built on the principles of an integrated, cohesive and personalised approach to student well-being. This strategy revolves around three key constructs: promotion, prevention and intervention. We have partnerships with internal and external stakeholders and service providers to ensure that our students have the support they require.

Student Wellness Programmes and Initiatives

The Student Counselling Unit’s commitment to student mental health can be seen through our diverse range of initiatives and programmes, including:

  1. Wellness Warrior Programme: A year-long programme empowering you to become an advocate for mental health and well-being on our campus. It encourages active involvement in supporting each other by introducing comprehensive mental health support interventions and initiatives.
  2. Counselling Services: A safe and confidential space for students to seek professional guidance when facing personal challenges or mental health issues.
  3. First Things First Campaigns: Campaigns centred on the provision of holistic physical and mental health support services, aiming to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, reduce stigma, and promote self-care practices.
  4. External Stakeholder Support: Partnerships with a network of health and wellness service providers ensure successful referrals for students in need of specialised mental health support.

As we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s reaffirm our commitment to the mental well-being of our students. Through our Student Wellness Strategy, we aim to nurture not just brilliant minds but also resilient spirits and thriving lives. Sol Plaatje University is proud to champion this cause and looks forward to a future where every student is not just academically successful but also emotionally and mentally fulfilled.

Ms Nicole Morris

Dean of Student Affairs

 

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