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Parents advised to counsel ‘at risk’ students: SADAG

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As the reality of the final matric results begins to set in for the class of 2014, concerns now turn to those students whose results fell short of expectations. Many are expected to battle with uncertainty and depression after failing to meet the high expectations place on them by family members, friends, and even themselves.

The pre and post results period marks a particularly busy time for the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), who are left inundated with calls from students seeking some form of counseling.

“I think it has been incredibly overwhelming for many of them. From the calls and sms’s we’ve received during the last couple of days, I think there are a lot of matrics who didn’t get the results they needed or wanted,” explained SADAG operations director, Cassey Chambers.

For those that failed, the biggest issue at present was simply not knowing what the next step was. This was leading many students to a feeling of helplessness, especially with the huge emphasis placed on their final year of schooling.

“I think when a child starts school; everything is built up to matric. There is so much pressure put on just this one year,” she said, further adding that these students were being tasked with making ‘adult’ decisions on their future, despite barely being of age.

To help assist these students and put their mind at ease, Chambers said it was imperative that adults provide the proper reassurance to them during this difficult period. Furthermore, it was advisable that families sit down with the student to work through possible options together.

“I think what’s really important is to balance that drive and push with reassurance. Let them know that it is okay, that you’re still going to love them and you’re still going to be there for them,” she said.

“It is also important now that parents sit down and speak to them. Have a proper conversation on how your child is coping, what they going through and what are they feeling.”

Apart from building a stronger relationship between the parents and child, it would also help the adult assess whether there was any need for concern of the student’s mental health and wellbeing.

She added that if the child was not comfortable with speaking to the parent, they could alternatively speak to a friend, teacher, or even a SADAG counselor.

“The most important thing is that they are talking to someone, so that we can identify whether they are felling stressed, overwhelmed, or are they at risk for depression or suicide. It is really important that we pick up on any of those key markers and intervene before it is too late,” she said.

To speak to a SADAG counselor you may contact them via the hotline, 0800 70 80 90, or via sms as 31393. You may also visit their website at VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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