Student mental health issues in South Africa are escalating; but who should be providing the necessary care and treatment – universities or government – and what else can be done to address this growing problem?

Counselling psychologist Charl Davids (above), Director at the Centre for Student Counselling and Development at Stellenbosch University (SU), believes student mental health has reached crisis point due to the sheer volume of those seeking help.

“We’ve definitely seen a rise in the numbers of students reaching out for support and accessing available mental health services, particularly after the CoViD-19 pandemic. However, what is particularly disturbing is the increasing severity of the presenting problems. This year, SU has had to hospitalise more students than we’ve done in the past three years due to severe anxiety and depression as well as substance (such as cannabis) induced psychosis. Tragically, we’ve had two successful suicides.”