The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) reports that depression affects an estimated 4,5 million South Africans, equating to 1 in 10 people. Many people are in denial about depression because they perceive it as being weak. Around 70% of people who have attempted suicide have a mental health disorder, most commonly that mental health disorder is depression.
Adjustment issues are some of the issues feeding into depression, where young people feel that previous life experience has not equipped them to deal with their "new norm", struggling with acceptance and fitting in. For young people who have not developed problem-solving and life skills and are struggling with other issues from adolescence, it can lead to suicide.
Those who reach out for a qualified professional help may struggle to get it as General Practitioners fail to detect between 33 and 50% of depressive disorders in patients presenting them. Poor implementation of psychological interventions to address the challenges that students face also contributes the pre-existing issues not being resolved. Studies have found that almost half of suicidal youths report some kind of medical treatment in the months prior to committing suicide, very few professionals pick up the warning signs.
Statistically, 90% of varsity suicide cases have a psychiatric diagnosis - depression, combined with alcohol or substance abuse is the most common diagnosis, but victims can also suffer from schizophrenia or personality disorders. Other warning signs include individuals having made previous attempts at suicide, having access to firearms, and having recently experienced a negative life event, recent disappointment, or the individual being involved in some sort of trouble.
In the context of universities, suicide is the second leading cause of death among students, after accidents. Varsity life involves a number of additional pressures on the student; coping with greater academic demands, loss of social family relations, increased financial responsibilities and heightened awareness of sexual identity and orientation. Students also bring unresolved problems with them into their new environments and many young people who struggle with bullying suffer in silence. Technological advancement has seen the birth and rise of “Cyber bullying”. This type of bullying is rife among the youth and is particularly harmful as it spreads in seconds.
Suicidal persona’s and tendencies differ between students and non-students. Varsity students display different personality traits to non-students who commit suicide. Non-student who commit suicide tend to have high risk-taking personalities, frequently use drugs and alcohol. By contrast, varsity students who are at risk are largely depressed, quiet, socially isolated young people who do not abuse alcohol or drugs and draw little attention to themselves. For them, death is seen as comforting and as an escape from their depression. A noted finding is that student suicide is more prevalent among students who take more than 4 years to complete their degree. Varsity women attempt suicide more frequently than men do, but varsity men succeed in ending their lives more often. Cultural beliefs around masculinity are a major contributor to fuelling myths and stigma around depression. This can lead to suicidal behaviour as men are still raised not to express emotions. Many are unable to escape their depression and find an escape in alcohol and/ or recreational drugs. Others rely on endorphin dependent behaviours such as excessive workouts at the gym or becoming workaholics.
Depression is a treatable and manageable condition. In less severe cases, family members should be involved to provide support; professionals should try decrease the risk of prescribing strong medication that is non-lethal in overdose and increasing contact with the patient. Short crisis orientated psychotherapy that involves the family has been found to be particularly useful.
If you are need of help, or know somebody who is, contact the National Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567. Lifeline can be reached on 0861 322 322. Universities have Student Counselling Services for students and staff onsite; who want or need contact sessions. Durban campuses Student Counselling services and offices can be reached on:
Durban University of Technology - 031 373 2266
University of KwaZulu Natal:
Edgewood Campus - 031 260 3653/ 3532
Howard College - 031 260 2668
Nelson R Mandela Medical School - 031 260 4595
Higher Education and Training has been a priority sector for the South African government for many years. This is in line with any developing country that seeks to be responsive to its needs, exploit its potential and remain abreast with developing sectors and industries.
This blog edition discusses the Priority Occupations as per The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), highlights the state of education in South Africa and what is forecast nationally in the Higher Education and Training sector in the coming years.
Budget allocation increases and targets:
The Department of Higher Education and Training White Paper for Post School Education and Training, aims at enrolling 2,5 million students by the year 2030. Of the 2,5 million students forecasted, 1,6 million will be university students. This objective will be achieved through the DHET progressively introducing free education for the poor in South African universities as the resources become available. There has been an annual increase in the amount allocated to the DHET from the national fiscus, highlighting it as a priority sector for the economy and its growth. The provision of Education and training is to be better co-ordinated with the needs of society and the economy.
Results of these budget increases can be seen already with enrolments at institutions of higher learning having increased year-on-year for full-time, part-time, contact and distance learning students. The total number of university graduates produced per annum is also increasing at a rate that has exceeded targets. Higher education is increasing its outputs too, as the increase in graduates is greater than the increase in enrolments.
Prioritised faculties and fields of study:
The DHET has also prioritised increasing research and innovation which will improve the quality of research produced by institutions of higher learning. Results of this have also been seen through the number of Research Masters and Doctoral (PhD) graduates increasing at a higher rate than the overall number of graduates at other levels of study. To absorb this increase and sustain the interest, policy will be developed focussing on the need to recruit and retain academics to ensure that academic careers are attractive and assisting academics improve their qualifications. It is envisaged that a National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences will be established to stimulate research and postgraduate studies in these vital disciplines. The DHET will also provide support for the study and development of the African languages in South African universities.
Other focus areas that have been identified are scarce skills areas including Engineering, Natural and Physical Sciences, Teachers, Animals and Human Health Studies
National List of Occupations in High Demand:
In the Government Gazette of 22 June 2018 a National List of Occupations in High Demand was identified and published. The primary purpose of the Gazetted List is to improve responsiveness of Post-School Education and Training System (PSET) to the needs of the economy and broader development needs of the country. This list refers to occupations that have shown relatively strong employment growth, are experiencing shortages in the labour market or are expected to be in demand in future. The next list will be released in 2020 and will be reviewed every two years. As a result of technological innovation, technological advancements, development of industries or implementation of government strategic priorities new occupations are expected to emerge in the near future which will be added accordingly to the list in future.
Three levels of demand were identified based on a point scoring system; occupations were distinguished between Highest Demand, Higher Demand, and High Demand.
Access, read or download the list of identified occupations on GreenGazette, or by clicking on the link https://www.greengazette.co.za/notices/skills-development-act-97-1998-national-list-of-occupations-in-high-demand-2018_20180622-GGN-41728-00637
The idea that sweets chocolates, biscuits and energy drinks keep our energy levels up is misleading. These high sugar foods cause a spike in energy, but the spike does not last long as it causes a tired slump, creating the craving for more sugar.
"You are what you eat" is an old saying that is apt for this blog edition. Our diet is the primary contributor to our nutrition, this is the fuel that affects our physical and mental performance. Brain fuel foods aid in keeping our energy levels constant, as well as maintain our concentration and brain power. In this blog edition, we list the food items that are aids during study time and elaborates on how these food items benefit us and our studies.
Mackerel, salmon and sardines in particular contain Omega-3 fatty acids and proteins. These are known to increase concentration and cognitive performance, assisting in rebuilding damaged brain cells. This also helps produce the hormone that makes us happy, Serotonin. The body does not produce Omega-3 fatty acids on its own so we need nutrition to help us do so.
For vegetarians, these fatty acids are also found in linseed, soya beans and pumpkin seeds.
2. Green vegetables:
Vitamin K, Vitamin B6 and B12 are essential for keeping optimum brain functionality and energy levels up. Spinach, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and Kale all contain these vitamins. These leafy vegetables also provide fibre, essential to your daily diet and natural antioxidants.
Good carbohydrates come in the form of wholegrain foods, set to sustain our body with constant energy level throughout the day. Wholegrains such as whole wheat bread and brown rice contain fibre and starch which take longer to digest, keeping your stomach fuller for longer and giving long lasting energy.
To cure the sugar craving, fresh fruit is the best way to go as they contain fructose (natural sugars), that give an energy boost. Fruit also provides fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed for the brain to perform at its best. Berries, for example, contain a large number of antioxidants that improve the brain's ability to remember facts, understand analytical tasks and improve decision making. Kiwi's contain Vitamin E that protects the body against viral and bacterial infections, keeping us fit and healthy during exam period.
Among the most convenient snack foods out there, nuts are packed with iron and fatty acid, helping us to maintain focus while studying. They have an added benefit of providing oxygen to our brain, helping us stay alert when putting in the late hours before an exam. A handful of almonds, cashews or salted peanuts will do the trick.
The peel of an apple includes a powerful antioxidant called Quercetin that enhances memory function. This common fruit is good for the body and the brain, improving information retention and academic performance.
As the academic programme is at a crucial stage with assessments, tests and exams pending for many of our students; their food intake will affect their academic outcomes. We at Westwood Lodge hope that this blog is informative and helpful to our student residents, resulting in them achieving their academic potential.
Now that the holiday cheer is over and you've said goodbye to your family, we can officially welcome you to your Home From Home.
The security, comfort and convenience offered on Westwood Lodge Student Estate, will ensure that you have peace of mind and are able to pursue and achieve your academic goals without worry. Settle into your house, make friends with your fellow residents and get familiar with your way around the estate.
What's on offer:
If you can't take the heat, get in the pool! The swimming pool deck is a favourite among Westwood Lodgers. Durban is famous for its tropical climate with hot and humid days being common. The pool is the place to keep cool... and look cool while doing it.
Fire is mankind's oldest common area, drawing people to gather around and socialise. The braai and entertainment facilities offered onsite are a place where many a memory are made. Gather friends for a braai, shoot some pool and keep it casual.
Assessments, assignments, tutorials, practicals and exams are the reality of university life. When its crunch time and the heat is on, the Study Lab is designed for you to get in the zone and study hard. It is a quiet area, free of disturbance and distraction. Your WiFi is also active in the Study Lab so take your laptop, tablet and/ or mobile phone for and continue to use those online tools at your convenience.
As a Student Estate, Westwood Lodge is a safe and secure student accommodation with dedicated onsite security. Emergency personnel is available around the clock for your medical emergencies.
Familiarise yourself with our contact details for any queries and further information that you may require. Our website, www.westwoodlodge.co.za , has all the information that you need to know. Like and follow our social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter alike; these will keep you up to date with our competitions, promotions and events.
Due to increased Government and Private sector funding for Higher Education over the last decade, South Africa has experienced a subsequent spike in demand for student accommodation. The pressure of increased enrolment has produced a focus on the number of beds available, while the quality of the existing accommodation leaves much to be desired.
After visiting several institutions of learning, the National Department of Higher Education and Training compiled a report on the state of student accommodation around the country. The report listed standards and measures to look for in student accommodation. Also noteworthy was the link established between student housing and academic success; this will be discussed in detail in an upcoming blog. This blog highlights and discusses the Components of Quality, as per the Ministerial Committee Report, and link these with the features of Westwood Lodge.
Residential Learning Communities: Also known as "Residential colleges" or "Living-learning communities", Residential Learning Communities integrate the academic and accommodation experience. These communities tend to be premised on homogeneity, course or level of study. This accommodation type is touted as improving retention as students in such communities are reported to spend more time talking about their academics and studying outside the classroom.
As a Student Estate, Westwood Lodge is a residential learning community. The academic, lodging and social experiences are enjoyed simultaneously with student residents accommodated on an estate that is purpose built to cater to students' needs. Westwood Lodge has a broad students community with students from various institutions of learning, specialised, private and public, around Durban housed on the estate. This includes students at various levels of their studies, from undergraduate to Doctoral and research fellows. Homes and rooms are allocated according to field and level of study as this promotes continued academic discussion outside the classroom. Westwood Estate also offers a study lab which is a quiet study facility for students to continue their studies in a dedicated study facility.
1. Adequate space: Student accommodation needs to provide space for students to live, store possessions/ books and study. The recommended room size for single accommodation is 9m², 13,3m² for a double room. On inspection by the Department of Higher Education and Training, most student accommodation visited provided less than that with an average of 6 - 7m² accommodation quite common, inclusive of food preparation areas.
Each cluster home on Westwood Lodge has five bedrooms, with the option of single or sharing (double) rooms; and a studio option available to postgraduates and research fellows. All rooms are fully furnished and fitted for comfortable lodging, easy and safe storage. Each room is equipped with en-suite bathroom. Rooms are a standard 13m², whether single or sharing. The studios are fully furnished self-contained units which are also en-suite. Studio room size is 25,7m². These room sizes provide ample space for living, storage and studying.
2. Shared facilities: Access to shared facilities which includes laundries, bathrooms, sitting areas, TV and games rooms is another important feature for quality student accommodation. These facilities provide comfort and convenience of use for students to socialise, groom and maintain their belongings.
Our student estate provides fully furnished accommodation including en-suite bathrooms per room, laundry facilities per house, tv area, lounge area and kitchen per house. In addition to the laundry facilities provided, each house is equipped with a courtyard drying area for the residents of the house. The social spaces in the houses are the lounge and tv areas equipped with satellite tv channels; an open plan space for communal use. Westwood Lodge also has space for larger resident gatherings. These are in the form of a covered entertainment area, swimming pool deck and braai areas.
3. Students eating regular meals: Nutrition is a pivotal part of lifestyle. Student nutrition is essential to academic performance as this contributes to concentration levels and retention of information.
As a self-catering facility, Westwood Lodge provides the necessary catering equipment for students to prepare their meals and store their food items. This is in the form of built in stove and oven, a microwave oven, toaster and kettle; these are provided to each house. Houses are also equipped with fridges, a sink and lockable cupboards for food storage and preparation.
4. Safety and Security: Safety and security is a primary human need. This entails having relevant safety measures and features in place to ensure peace of mind. The traditional security guard at a gate has proven ineffective. Fortunately, technology has become a reliable aid with many technological appliances available as tools for security.
Our residents’ safety is paramount to us. Westwood Lodge is a secured estate with a dedicated security team that has permanent presence onsite. The estate is patrolled hourly ensuring vigilance and visibility of security personnel. Access to the estate is controlled by biometric system. This feature not only ensures that access is restricted to residents, it also keeps record of who is on the estate. Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) also aides in keeping record of people and vehicles entering and exiting the estate; as well as record of any incidents of concern.
5. Well maintained built environment: The state of repair and time taken to attend to maintenance of facilities ensures that general functionality and aesthetic of facilities are in mint condition. First impressions contribute to decision-making and a well-maintained facility presents a good image of an institution.
Maintenance and upkeep of Westwood Estate and its facilities is attended to by a dedicated maintenance staff. The landscape, buildings, fittings, furnishing and infrastructure are inspected and monitored daily. Residents are also encouraged to report defects that they have identified, and these are attended to promptly.
6. Responsive Management: Availability and responsiveness of staff is pivotal to the overall student experience. Student life extends beyond academic and lodging matters.
Westwood Lodge has an approachable and professional staff complement managing student and estate matters. This includes a dedicated official located on the estate 24 hours a day for any potential eventualities and/ or emergencies.