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SU’s Extended Degree Programme provides comprehensive student support’s Extended Degree Programme provides comprehensive student supportAsiphe Nombewu /Corporate Communication<p>​​​​​​​​​Thanks to the Extended Degree Programme (EDP), the future is full of possibilities for students such as Axola Dlepu, a BA Social Dynamics student who gained access to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) through the programme.</p><p>This innovative programme was instituted at SU in 2008 to deal with systemic obstacles to equity and student success and to assist students with additional academic support.</p><p>Coordinator of the programme, Dr Anita Jonker, says the EDP's role is to redress past inequalities and transform higher education by responding to new realities and opportunities.</p><p>According to Jonker, the programme is open to students who are interested in studying towards a Bachelor's degree with an average of 60–64,9% in their National Senior Certificate (NSC). She added that the National Benchmark Test (NBT) results, students' socio-economic status, as well as availability of places, are taken into consideration in EDP admissions.</p><p>EDP and mainstream students obtain the same degrees after completion of their undergraduate studies. The only difference is that EDP students do their first year over two years. Over and above their mainstream subjects, EDP students take modules that prepare them better for their graduate studies, such as Texts in the Humanities, Information Skills and Introduction to the Humanities.</p><p>In the first-year Texts in the Humanities, the focus is on academic reading and writing, plagiarism and referencing, , rhetorical structure, , text-linguistic characteristics, critical thinking and argumentation. The lectures are presented in separate Afrikaans and English classes to provide optimal academic support in students' preferred medium of instruction.</p><p>In Introduction to the Humanities EDP students are introduced to four different subject-fields, with a specific focus on multilingual technical concepts that provide a foundation for other subject fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences. All the terminology and lecture notes are available in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa and interpreters give students the opportunity to participate in lectures in their mother-tongues.</p><p>Students who speak Afrikaans, Kaaps and other related language varieties have a tutor, Jocelyn Solomons, who facilitates the tutorial discussions in these language varieties, and those who speak English and, inter alia, isiXhosa, have a tutor, Busiswa Sobahle, who facilitates the tut discussions in English and isiXhosa.</p><p>Extensive extra-curricular support is integrated into the academic offering to enhance student success. This includes the EDP mentor programme, which has received co-curriculum recognition and which is coordinated by Ms Shona Lombard. Here senior EDP students mentor first-year students with similar BA programmes and help them to adjust to the new challenges of university life.</p><p>Expressing his gratitude for being chosen to be part of the programme, Dlepu said, “The EDP programme has helped me a lot with academic support alongside being mentored. It made my life a lot easier than that of a mainstream first-year student."</p><p>The 20-year-old from Saldanah Bay encouraged other students in the EDP to use the programme to shine.</p><p>He said the EDP modules gave students a broader worldview and taught them how to engage with multilingual students from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.</p><p>Bavani Naicker, a 20-year-old BA Social Dynamics student from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) described the EDP as a comprehensive support system. She said they were given foundational knowledge to assist them in their studies.</p><p>“My highlight of the course was when we visited Parliament and interacted with representatives of the different political parties," she said.</p><p>Chloe Krieger, a BA International Studies student from Cape Town, said if it were not for EDP, she would have dropped out in her first year. “The EDP taught us crucial literacy and life skills that the basic education system failed to teach the majority of students."</p><p>Krieger said that the EDP helped her to develop an awareness about critical issues that she would not otherwise have been aware of. “I was also inspired to be an activist and to be an agent for change. I am currently serving on the 2019/2020 SRC and I am learning so much about issues that marginalised groups on campus face that many people overlook," she said.</p><p>Students who have provisionally been admitted to the EDP and their parents/guardians are invited to the first meeting with EDP lecturers and mentors on Friday, 24 January 2020 from 09:30 to 12:00 in Room 3001 of the Wilcocks Building at 52 Ryneveld Street.</p><p>Prospective students who want to read more about the EDP, can consult the EDP website at <a href="/english/faculty/arts/edp/home"></a><br><br></p>
Sign language-related courses help teachers of Deaf students with new curriculum language-related courses help teachers of Deaf students with new curriculumLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">Last year, the first South African Sign Language (SASL) curriculum was rolled out nationally in South Africa after it had first been piloted as a project at the De la Bat School for the Deaf in Worcester from 2011 to 2013. Now, thanks to three short courses of the Department of General Linguistics that focus on language teachers, including sign language teachers, those who have to implement this curriculum will also have the necessary skills to do so effectively. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Dr Frenette Southwood of the Department of General Linguistics of Stellenbosch University (SU), the department has been offering shorts courses in the Foundations of Linguistics, Sign Language Linguistics and Literature of SASL to teachers of Deaf learners since the beginning of 2015. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"South African Sign Language is now acknowledged as a first language by the Department of Education, just like Afrikaans and English, and is also taught in schools," says Southwood. SU is one of three academic institutions in South Africa that offers these types of courses.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The courses are intended for language teachers who do not have a sufficient background in linguistics or literature and helps these teachers to interact optimally with the curriculum they have to teach."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The three courses were created after the department presented the first intensive five-day Foundations of Linguistics course to 31 teachers of Deaf learners and staff of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) in June 2015. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Ms Minna Steyn of the WCED, who also was the project manager of the pilot project at De la Bat, teachers in the Western Cape were provided with basic training by the WCED to implement the new curriculum. A year later, training was done at the national level. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"During the training at national level we realised that there was not enough training that focused on literature and poetry, although these form part of the new curriculum. The idea therefore was to show teachers and teacher assistants how to teach poetry and literature in sign language. I thus was keen to offer our teachers who teach Deaf learners more in-depth training and then discussed the possibilities with the Department of General Linguistics. The ETDP-SETA was then approached to find funding for 30 students to undertake training at Stellenbosch University," says Steyn. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn has been involved with the education of Deaf people for the past three decades and was head of the Thiboloha School for the Deaf and Blind in Qwaqwa in the Free State before being seconded to De la Bat for the launch of the SASL curriculum. She also completed her MA in the SU Department of General Linguistics in December 2015, focusing specifically on language and literacy acquisition by Deaf Foundation Phase learners in her thesis. In a report of the WCED in 2015, she said the following about the implementation of SASL as a first language: "Deaf children who are born into hearing families do not have the privilege of learning language in a natural manner from birth. It is only when they go to school that a Deaf child is exposed to Deaf adults and friends and that they learn sign language. South African Sign Language is the first language of Deaf people in South Africa and is equivalent to any spoken language. It has been proven scientifically that a child's mother tongue must be established firmly and be in place before an additional first language can be mastered."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">During her time at De la Bat she noticed how Deaf learners in the pre-school classes started participating more in lessons because they now had sufficient Sign Language vocabulary to participate more easily thanks to the pilot project. Previously, sign-supported Afrikaans or sign-supported English (these are spoken languages that are converted into signs word for word, some of which were artificial, non-SASL signs) were used as language of teaching and learning in schools for the Deaf. This deprived learners of exposure to SASL in the classroom. With the rolling out of the SASL curriculum, SASL is also implemented as language of learning and teaching in schools for the Deaf – as early as in the preschool classes. Deaf learners' SASL skills therefore are being improved from early on and they have the opportunity to receive their school training in a natural language.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The courses of the Department of General Linguistics accommodate 30 people at a time, who complete the Foundation and Sign Language Linguistics courses over six weeks, with one week of lectures on campus and the rest being done by way of directed self-study and distance teaching. The course on the Literature of South African Sign Language runs over two days and comprises lectures that are presented on the SU campus. According to Southwood, the purpose of the training is to sharpen teachers' knowledge of language and sign language as a language so that they can be better language teachers. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"This is not a sector that received much attention in the past and the quality of teaching therefore is not up to standard. There also are some teachers who cannot use sign language fluently but who have to teach in sign language. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"So besides for teachers' sign language skills needing to be improved, they also need to have knowledge of this first language of their learners so that a teacher can be better able, for example, to teach their sign language-using learners English or Afrikaans as language of literacy. Through these courses we help our teachers to do the latter by helping them to understand what language is, how it works and how it is learnt. Our courses cover concepts such as the nature, function and structure of human language, how human languages are used and understood, how they are processed and produced, and how these aspects are applicable to sign language."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn believes that the courses will not only lead to better equipped SASL teachers, but also will raise the profile and visibility of sign language. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"South African Sign Language is a stigmatised language, with rules and principles such as any other language. It therefore helps the image of the language if academic institutions such as Stellenbosch University offer courses on it." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn has herself completed three courses to gain a better idea of the type of training that teachers received by way of the courses. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"There is no other way to describe it other than to say that it is really wonderful for me to know that teachers are now empowered to implement this curriculum with the knowledge that they have received from SU."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Thus far, a total of 61 teachers completed the three courses in June to October 2015, with a further 36 who started training in April 2016. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Steyn is now encouraging other provinces to build up similar co-operation with local universities in their environment and to ensure that teachers are empowered in this manner. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For Southwood and her colleagues, this co-operation with the WCED also offers many other exciting opportunities for the training of students at US. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"Our department is very grateful to be part of this. Sign Language Linguistics is now a section of our second-year module in General Linguistics and we will also offer it as a third-year module from next year. We are also planning to offer Sign Language Acquisition to students as a subject in 2017. We therefore are not only busy strengthening the expertise of current teachers, but also preparing a new generation of students to qualify themselves as teachers of Deaf learners." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For Steyn, the broader impact of the project, which they started in 2011, is the most important result of a longstanding aim of ensuring that SASL is recognised as a fully-fledged language. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The Deaf child now receives the type of education that prepares him/her academically. My dream is to have SASL as a subject in our mainstream schools and that hearing people are also given an opportunity to learn sign language."</p><p><em>Photo: Nine Deaf students (of whom seven are teachers of Deaf students) completed the courses in Foundations of Linguistics, Sign Language Linguistics and Literature of SASL in March and received a certificate from Stellenbosch University. Mr Christopher Dontsa (fourth from left) completed all three courses. In front, from left, are Prof Johan Oosthuizen, Ms Annette Humphrey-Heyns, Nodumo Same, Christopher Dontsa, Phumla Mosia, Ncumisa Loliwe, Andiswa Fayindlala, Lazya le Roux, and Dr Frenette Southwood. At the back are Christoffer Galada and Simon Ndaba.</em></p>
George Claassen first recipient of SU’s Media Lifetime Achievement Award Claassen first recipient of SU’s Media Lifetime Achievement AwardCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>​<br></p><p>Prof George Claassen, former Head of the Department of Journalism at Stellenbosch University (SU) and deputy editor of <em>Die Burger, </em>is the first recipient of SU's Media Lifetime Achievement Award. </p><ul><li>Read the full "commendatio" <a href="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/George%20Claassen%20commendatio%20-%20skoon.docx">here</a> <br></li></ul><p>Claassen (70) received the award at an event at the Wallenberg Research Centre at STIAS in Stellenbosch on Thursday (5 December 2019). The event saw Excellence Awards made to teaching, research and to those who have excelled at communicating their research and expertise through the media</p><p>Reading a “commendatio" at the event, Mr Martin Viljoen, Manager Media, said that Claassen can rightly be called the father of science communication in Africa. “He had a profound impact on both journalism as a profession and as a field of study."  </p><p>Viljoen added that Claassen excelled in science journalism and the ombud system as important spheres of contemporary journalism. He was the first journalism academic in South Africa to develop a course in science and technology journalism with peers at American universities specialising in science and technology journalism considering his work to be the best in this field.</p><p>“It is safe to say that Claassen shaped the thinking of a whole generation of journalists operating in South Africa and beyond, imparting his knowledge on science communication and implanting in journalists a keen sense of detecting fake news and pseudo-science. He has an ability to see into the media future and has been preparing journalists accordingly, including for the explosion of social media, fake news and propaganda appearing on our screens. In many regards, Claassen led the charge in countering the impact of this onslaught on, in and from the media and it came as no surprise that he was the organiser of the first international conference on quackery and pseudoscience." </p><p>Claassen also dovetailed science journalism with establishing the first comprehensive course in cultural and scientific literacy in SU's journalism programmes, while paying close attention to advancing environmental journalism and reporting on climate change. </p><p>Claassen is synonymous with the media ombud system on the continent, Viljoen said. He established the media ombud system in Media24 and is currently, after his retirement from the company, still ombud for the company's community newspapers and public editor of News24. </p><p>He has served as a board member of the International Organisation of News Ombudsmen and Readers' Editors, he is a columnist on the subject and organiser and speaker of various conferences and symposia on an international scale.</p><p>At age 70, Claassen seems to show no signs of slowing down. Apart from his work as ombud, he is a science correspondent for the SABC and still teaches at SU's Department of Journalism. <br></p><ul><li>​Apart from the Media Lifetime Achievement Award, SU staff were also honoured in the categories Media Thought Leader, Newsmaker and Co-worker<br></li></ul><div>​<br></div>
SU honours top postdoctoral researchers honours top postdoctoral researchersCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>Stellenbosch University (SU) boasts more than 300 registered postdoctoral fellows who are making a meaningful contribution towards realising the institution's vision of becoming Africa's leading research-intensive university. <br></p><p>The top 20 fellows out of this group were honoured at SU's annual Postdoctoral Research Day recently. They each received R10 000 and a certificate of recognition for their outstanding research output as well as their contribution in academia through student training, presentations at conferences as well as other non-academic endeavours.<br></p><p>Initiated in 2017 by the Vice-Rector for Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Eugene Cloete, and sponsored by the SU's Postdoctoral Society and the Division for Research Development, the Postdoctoral Research Day provides a platform for postdoctoral fellows to showcase their research activities.<br></p><p>Commenting on the awards, Cloete said, “The contribution of postdoctoral fellows to academic performance at the University is significant, and postdocs support students and are the muscle behind major research. The fellows honoured here had published upwards of 10 manuscripts, formed parts of collaborative research teams, landed large grants and also are active members in university and other academic societies."<br></p><p>He added that SU valued its postdoctoral researchers and wanted to grow the current cohort to 500 within the next two years, in line with the University's strategy and vision to have a global impact.<br></p><p>The following postdoctoral fellows (in alphabetical order) were honoured at the Research Day:<br></p><p>Shameemah Abrahams (Biomedical Sciences); Hayley Clements (Centre for Complex Systems in Transition); Rosemary Cripwell (Microbiology); Anna Hartfort (Philosophy); Martin Heine (Health and Rehabilitation Sciences); Heidi Hirsch (Botany and Zoology); Marion Javal (Conservation Ecology); Tanya Kerr (Biology and Human Genetics); Lizabé Lambrechts (Africa Open Institute); Gina Leisching (Biomedical Science); Mohsen Mandegari (Process Engineering); Jan-Lukas Menzel (Earth Science); Corneile Minaar (Botany and Zoology); Charissa Naidoo (Biomedical Science); Mario Mairal Pisa (Botany and Zoology); Julia Riley (Botany and Zoology); Letitia Schoeman (Horticultural Sciences); Wendy Stone (SU Water Institute); Alemayehu  Tsige (Horticultural Sciences)and Caitlin Uren (Biomedical Sciences)</p><ul><li><strong>​Photo</strong>: Some of the top postdoctoral fellows at the Research Day. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Riana Coetsee</li></ul><p> </p><p><br></p>
Global experts in Cape Town to probe changing HIV/AIDS epidemic experts in Cape Town to probe changing HIV/AIDS epidemic Xanthe Hunt, Adziliwi Nematandani and Lynne Rippenaar-Moses<p>HIV/AIDS experts from five continents across the world will be in Cape Town, South Africa, from 13-15 November 2017 to probe the dynamics of a changing HIV/AIDS epidemic and to address issues related to prevention, treatment and care. The experts will be participating in the 13<sup>th</sup> AIDS Impact Conference, which is hosted by Stellenbosch University (SU) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). </p><p>The behavioural and psychosocial science gathering — which was first convened in 1991 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands — is an international dialogue that looks at the human face of the epidemic. <br></p><p>“Despite the vast importance of medical inquiry and advancements in the fight against HIV, attending to the humanitarian and social 'face' of the epidemic are invaluable," explained Dr Sarah Skeen of Stellenbosch University, co-chair of the conference. <br></p><p>The HSRC's Professor Heidi van Rooyen, who is a co-chair of the conference added that, “If we are to stem the epidemic in Africa, then addressing poverty, gender inequality and gender-based violence, which fuel the spread of HIV among vulnerable populations, requires our urgent attention." <br></p><p>Continuing from where the 2015 meeting ended, the 2017 Cape Town conference, titled '<strong><em>What will it take to end the epidemic</em></strong>?' aims to promote pioneering work on understanding the dynamics of a changing epidemic, with a key focus on the latest avenues for prevention, treatment and care.</p><p>The meeting will bring together delegates from 54 countries who are new to the field, as well as seasoned researchers, prevention workers, community members, policy makers, and other key stakeholders from universities, institutes, and organisations around the globe.<br></p><p>Among the speakers will be Professor Fred Ssewamala, Director of the International Center for Child Health and Asset Development at Columbia University. His plenary will address Cost-effectiveness of Savings-led Economic Empowerment Interventions for AIDS-Impacted Children, and their impact on adolescent's health, material wellbeing and adherence to ART medication (for those who are HIV positive). Professor Linda Richter, a Distinguished Professor and Director of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, will be discussing the relevance of the values underlying the Sustainable Development Goals.<br></p><p>Delegates will share  multidisciplinary understanding, state of the art research, international good practice – and a deep understanding of the importance of the human experience in all aspects of HIV prevention, treatment and care.  “If we forget the human face behind the epidemic the virus will triumph – if we grasp the needs of humanity we can pinpoint a turning point in the journey to eradicate AIDS," says Professor Lorraine Sherr of the International Scientific Board.<br></p><p>The AIDS Impact Conference is held bienially and is one of the leading platforms for understanding, updating and debating the behavioural, psychosocial and community facets of HIV in light of changing social conditions and medical advances. This year, the conference organisational team, led by Prof Mark Tomlinson and Dr Sarah Skeen of SU and Prof Heidi van Rooyen and Ms Bridgette Prince from the HSRC, anticipate delegates from 54 countries. <br></p><p>The  plenary session will include speakers from leading institutions such as the International Center for Child Health and Asset Development at Columbia University; the Carolina Population Center; the University of the Witwatersrand; the School of Public Health & Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town; the Division of Prevention Science in the Department of Medicine at the University of California; the University of New York; the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen; the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC); and the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at University College London as well as activists and voices from those with HIV.<br></p><p>The Conference will be hosted at the newly developed Century City Conference Centre located near the Cape Town CBD.<br></p><p><strong class="ms-rteFontSize-1">About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)</strong></p><p>The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa's statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent. It does cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.</p><p>The HSRC's mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences. <br></p><p>The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa's national development priorities.<br></p><p><strong class="ms-rteFontSize-1">About Stellenbosch University (SU)</strong></p><p>Stellenbosch University (SU), celebrating its centenary in 2018, is one of the oldest universities in South Africa. With its 10 faculties (AgriSciences, Economic and Management Sciences, Medicine and Health Sciences, Engineering, Military Sciences, Arts and Social Sciences, Science, Education, Law and Theology), it boasts the highest weighted research output per full-time academic staff member of all South African universities and the second-highest number of scientists in South Africa who have been ranked by the National Research Foundation (NRF) – 429 in 2017. </p><p>With 24 research chairs under the NRF's South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChi) and seven Centres of Excellence, the University is regarded as a leader in the fields of biomedical tuberculosis research and management, wine biotechnology, water research, sustainable energy, animal sciences, and mathematical biosciences, amongst others.</p><p>As preferred research partner, SU also participates in various international academic networks. The institution has over 150 bilateral partners in 44 countries on 6 continents and more than 4 300 international students from more than 100 different nationalities.<br></p>
World Social Work Day allows social workers to take a deeper look at their profession Social Work Day allows social workers to take a deeper look at their professionLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">​​ World Social Work Day is celebrated across the globe on 20 March each year. This year, in celebration of the international day of recognition, the Social Work department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences hosted a talk by Dr Abigail Ornellas entitled <em>'These clothes don't fit us anymore!' – Expanding Your Idea of Social Work</em>.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The talk forms part of a number of events being hosted by the department in celebration of the university's centenary year.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The theme of World Social Work Day is promoting community and environment sustainability – these are big topics, and topics that social workers can at times shy away from, or limit themselves to certain areas with the belief that this is as far as their impact or reach can go," said Ornellas, who has just completed her doctoral degree in Social Work at Stellenbosch University (SU). (Read her full story <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=5542%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B">here</a>.)<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“However, through my experience and research I have found that the social work profession is both capable of, and responsible for, a much grander vision than I believe we sometimes allow for ourselves."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">For this reason, Ornellas wants to challenge social workers to “go further and be bold in their right and responsibility to tackle politics, economics and macro-scale challenges" and to engage with policies and government structures to make a far bigger impact on society.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">She encouraged social workers to start thinking of their field as a professional one, where they are capable of bringing about change at a higher level and not only on the ground.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">During her talk she highlighted how the revised global definition of social work of 2014 calls upon social workers to “go beyond the individualistic approach we have been too long comfortable with, and to consider the collective and the structural causes of individual challenges".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In particular, I often refer to a need to understand the impact of economic and political theory and landscape on our profession – to critically question the intervention activities we undertake and ask, “Why? Why this way? For what and toward what?," said Ornellas.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">For the last few years, Ornellas has been focusing on expanding her research knowledge of social work and building up her expertise. Currently, she is a postdoctoral research fellow of the Social Work department at SU. Before completing her doctoral degree at the university, she spent some time travelling as a full-time research associate for the department across 11 countries. This expedition was funded thanks to two EU International Research Staff Exchange Schemes. Over the years her work has also been published in more than seven scientific international publications and she has lectured and presented at conferences in South Africa, Portugal, Italy, Spain, England, South Korea, Russia, Finland and India.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While she did not work as a social worker following her studies, the degree programme in the department is set up in such a manner that students gain extensive practical work experience in both child and family welfare as well as clinical social work.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">It is these experiences during her Masters studies, she said, that led her to the concept of deinstitutionalisation.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It was my work experience at a local state hospital in my final year that really propelled me into research as I became aware of the role of policy and socio-political dynamics in social work practice – which could limit or free the profession to fulfil the mandate of the global definition. My work was concentrated in the psychiatric ward, and at the time South Africa was undergoing a transition toward deinstitutionalisation of mental health care. This where institutional psychiatric facilities are shut down and mental health care is shifted to community-based initiatives," explained Ornella.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“This sounded like a noble idea," said Ornellas, “but when implemented in a neoliberal (a policy model favouring free-market capitalism) environment, it is very much a cost-saving exercise that frees the state from the expense of mental health care, turning this responsibility over to civil society without sufficient community development and support or facilities."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">It is one of the main reasons, she said, that the Life Esidimeni tragedy took place. In 2016, the decision to move patients from Life Esidimeni, a state-run facility, to a number of NGOs that were ill prepared to accommodate these patients led the deaths of 144 vulnerable patients.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Some of the conversations I had with social workers attempting to navigate this shift and assist vulnerable groups affected by deinstitutionalisation still haunt me today. They felt they were hitting out against a solid brick wall. The frustration and desperation was concrete. It made me realise that social work research had a role to play in challenging the structural systems that hinder social workers on the ground," added Ornellas.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“What I have come to realise," she said quoting from research she conducted with Prof Lambert Engelbrecht of the Social Work department at SU and Dr Gary Spolander  from Coventry University in the UK, “is that unless social work is able to correctly identify the nature and causes of social distress, it will be unable to recommend and support appropriate interventions."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“That said, I am deeply aware of the limitations in my understanding, as an academic. I am not facing what they face. But my commitment in my academic endeavours is to social workers grappling with these challenges. It's why my doctoral thesis highlighted the need to move outside of the small academic periphery, into unpacking and showcasing the views of frontline social workers," she said.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">What she does know, said Ornellas, is that “social work has a critical role [to play] in the current neoliberal and globalisation debate and should not just acquiesce to priorities such as budgetary constraints and premises that one cannot make a difference beyond helping those on the ground. It also plays a critical role in challenging policies of current regimes that do not work.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Social work should use research, pedagogy and critical voice to support it in facilitating social change, development, cohesion and social stability, as well as the empowerment and liberation of people."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">She encouraged the up-and-coming social work students to feel “empowered in their role and profession and to “truly be committed to social justice in its entirety rather than being an instrument or bystander to someone else's agenda and also touched on the need to “decolonise social work training from its Western colonialist, capitalist and neoliberal underpinnings".</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While she may not have practised as a social worker, Ornellas has intimate knowledge of the child welfare system. As a young child Ornellas and her twin brother often found themselves in foster care as their mom, who tried in vain to deal with a mental illness, struggled to raise Abigail and her brother.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My biological mother wanted to take care of us but it wasn't easy for her and we would often need to be moved into places of safety. I have always been grateful to her for finally making the decision to give us over to another family permanently. We were adopted when we were almost five years old by an amazing South African family of musicians – they have been an incredible support system and really are some of the best people I know. The experience was hard and certainly there have been things I have needed to work through as an adult, but I wouldn't really change things. It certainly has made me a better social worker. But it is only one part of my story and there is so much more that has shaped me and my love for this profession. I try not to make it the central focus."</p><p>It is one of the reasons that led her to social work in the end, she told the audience.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“My first experience of social work was when I was in foster care as a child and so I have always believed it to be important – in my world, it's always been quite large and meaningful and it played a significant role in bringing me to where I am today, so I have a deep respect for it. As I went further into my studies, the more I learnt, read and witnessed, the more I believed this profession was even bigger than I had initially imagined in terms of its impact potential and role in society. Though the practice of social work is something I deeply love and wish to engage in in the near future, it was the profession itself, the people, the concept, that really grabbed me. This was something I wanted to be a part of."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Today as the world focuses on World Social Work Day, Ornellas hopes that the day is not only celebrated as a day for social workers to reflect on the “collective mandate into which our day-to-day practice falls , but that the day also implores us to think bigger, reinvigorates our commitment on days we struggle to remember why we do what we do and if we make any difference. It also encourages us to remember our strength and value as a profession – we are a globally collective body that plays such a massively significant role in societal wellbeing."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“In a country like South Africa, we need to know what our society needs and whether we are meeting those needs and if not, what needs to happen in terms of structural barriers for us to meet those needs. There are a lot of professions doing therapy work but there are not a lot of professions like social work, that engages with the macro aspects of the social systems that lead to social ills."</p><p><em>Photo: Dr Abigail Ornellas was the guest speaker at the World Social Work Day event of the Social Work department at Stellenbosch University. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses) </em></p>
Vosloo couple invests in Chair in Afrikaans Language Practice at SU couple invests in Chair in Afrikaans Language Practice at SUDevelopment & Alumni / Ontwikkeling & Alumni<p>​​​Ton Vosloo and Anet Pienaar-Vosloo, a couple with close ties to Stellenbosch University (SU), announced that from 2020 they will be sponsoring the Ton and Anet Vosloo Chair in Afrikaans Language Practice at SU for five years.<br></p><p>In addition to the Chair, funds are made available for bursaries for deserving students studying Afrikaans at postgraduate level at SU.</p><p>According to the Vosloo couple, the Chair is aimed at further developing Afrikaans as an important instrument in the service of the entire South African community.</p><p>Until 2015, Vosloo was in the industry for 59 years as a journalist, editor, CEO and chairperson of Naspers, and for the past three years, professor of journalism at SU. Pienaar-Vosloo, also a former journalist, is filming the third television series <em>Mooi </em>for the VIA TV channel. She is a Matie who studied fine art, and is well known for her role as co-founder and director of the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, Aardklop and various other festivals across the country. She is also the first female chair of the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town.</p><p>Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU, says the donation not only helps in maintaining Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, but also in promoting Afrikaans as a science and career language in a multilingual community. "As far as we know this is the first and only sponsored Chair in Afrikaans Language Practice at any university," he adds.</p><p>Prof Ilse Feinauer of the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch in SU's Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has been appointed incumbent of this Chair. She has been teaching at the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch since 1982, and since 1996 has been involved in the postgraduate programme in translation, which has been expanded under her guidance from a postgraduate diploma in translation to a PhD in translation. She chaired the Department from 2005 to the end of 2008 and held the position of Vice Dean: Research of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences from 2015 to 2018. In 2013, Feinauer became the first woman to be promoted to professor of Afrikaans linguistics at SU, and in 2014, the Taiyuan University of Technology in Taiyuan, Shanxi (China), awarded her an honorary professorship in their Faculty of International Language and Culture.</p><p>“It is an incredible honour and privilege for me to be able to hold this Chair in Afrikaans Language Practice. All credit goes to Prof Wim de Villiers for laying the groundwork to make this Chair a reality in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch."</p><p>According to Prof Feinauer, bursaries have already been awarded to four honours students, three master's students, two PhD students and one postdoctoral fellowship in Afrikaans and Dutch for 2020. “This Chair provides the Department with the opportunity to empower postgraduate students in particular to do research in and about Afrikaans in order to pursue a professional career after completing their studies in and through Afrikaans," she added.</p><p>When Ton Vosloo was asked why he and his wife came forward with the support of Afrikaans, he replied: “In my memoirs <em>Across Boundaries: A life in the media in a time of change</em>, published last year, I wrote a chapter entitled, 'Afrikaans in decline'. I made the point in the chapter that I hope gracious individuals would come forward who were concerned with the A to Z of Afrikaans.</p><p>“Anet and I have the grace that we can help. Afrikaans, as Jan Rabie put it, is our oxygen. Now is the time to step in further to develop this incredible source of knowledge for the sake of our nation's future. "</p><p>The Vosloos have been esteemed SU donors for some time.<br></p>
Two Arts Faculty students selected for prestigious SA-Washington leadership programme Arts Faculty students selected for prestigious SA-Washington leadership programmeLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">​​Busiswa Sobahle and Shane Sass are on a mission to find funding to further develop their leadership skills and contribute to South Africa's future despite having faced various obstacles on the path to realising their own dreams.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Two students completing their undergraduate degrees at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) were recently selected to participate in a prestigious international leadership development programme "to inspire, develop and support a new generation of ethical South African servant leaders". </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Busiswa Sobahle from Gugulethu and Shane Sass from Kuils River will form part of 20 students from South Africa, and five in total from SU who will depart for Washington in the United States on 12 June to participate in six weeks of professional exposure to various leaders in this capital and complete an intense leadership curriculum.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Busiswa and Shane are respectively completing their final year and third year of a BA degree in International Studies via the Extended Degree Programme (EDP). </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The South Africa-Washington International Program (SAWIP) is an initiative of the Washington-Ireland Program for Service and Leadership (WIP) which has spent the last twenty years helping to develop the next generation of leaders in Ireland after decades of violent conflict. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"More than 400 university students from Ireland, both North and South, have graduated from WIP and many of them are now part of a rising generation of leaders who are taking their place in government and society at many levels," says Ms Sally Currin, Chief Operating Officer of SAWIP.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Since then SAWIP has focused on producing emerging leaders who will actively work towards bringing about social and economic transformation and justice within a sustainable democracy for all South African citizens. Its patrons are Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and world-renowned scenario planner Mr Clem Sunter. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">In South Africa, 123 students have already graduated from the programme, which is officially endorsed by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation and by the United States government.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Except for the Washington leg of their training, Busiswa and Shane will undergo a seven-month programme that includes a series of formal and non-formal development sessions and two community service components, followed by further development and involvement in SAWIP  through its alumni network. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For now, the two students are focusing on generating the R9 000 each that they will need to participate in the trip to Washington.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"It is really important for us to participate in this part of the programme as well as we will not only be benefitting from a leadership curriculum based on a different perspective to our own ideas of leadership in South Africa, but will be exposed to professions and persons in professions that we are interested in pursuing in future and also network with leaders from all spheres of life," they explain.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Listening to the often difficult paths that both these students walked to become student leaders at SU, you would hardly believe that Busiswa is now Vice-Chair of the Huis Russel Botman House and Shane is the Metanoia House Committee member responsible for critical engagement and student development and the Metanoia Leadership course coordinator at the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute (FVZS) for Student Leadership Development at SU. The course is presented to first-years at Metanoia in the first semester of the year and has inspired FVZS to develop their own course for all SU students. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">When they first arrived at university in 2013, Busiswa and Shane were both placed on the EDP, because their matric averages of 57% did not conform to the formal access requirements of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. "The EDP which was established to deal with systemic obstacles to equity and student success, allows educationally and historically disadvantaged students to do their first academic year over two years. During this period students also do additional academic support subjects that are not available to mainstream students," explains Ms Anita Jonker, Academic Coordinator of the EDP. "Both Busiswa and Shane are assiduous and resourceful students who made use of the additional academic support that is available in the EDP. It is great that they can eventually compete with the best students in the country."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While both students became aware of the unjustified negative perceptions about the EDP, they were resolute to achieve success by whatever means to improve their circumstances and to give back to the communities where they come from.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"I was fine with being an EDP student, because I knew I was changing my life course, so whether it would take three or five years to do that that was fine with me. When you come from a township, you tend to limit yourself subconsciously – you don't consider where you can go and what you can achieve. I was aware that someone with my frame of reference [with regards to what I could achieve in life considering what I saw around me on a daily basis] should not be at Stellenbosch University, but I was determined and committed to changing my status quo," explains Busiswa.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"I was quite excited to come to University. That in itself was a big opportunity and a privilege especially as I am a first generation university student. I was also not that strong academically in high school, so I doubted whether I would get into university in the first place, so when I did get the letter of admission I was excited to go," adds Shane.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Being able to complete his degree over a longer period of time he says, became a blessing as it would catapult him into overcoming another obstacle, a severe stutter he had developed in primary school after being teased about a limp he developed following an illness as a toddler which prevented his left leg from growing at the same pace as his right.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"As a first generation student, I was quite scared when I first came to university. This is a dynamic environment where you need to keep up with the pace to be successful and when I got here I knew I wanted a better life for myself as well as the economic and social benefits of having a degree. But I wanted more, so I started challenging myself to get involved in leadership positions. This is something I would never have done in high school because I am an introvert. I also used to sit out orals and tell the teachers I don't need the marks because I was so ashamed of my stutter."</p><p>Shane also decided to see a psychologist at the Centre for Student Counselling and Development and thanks to her support, he has stopped stuttering completely. In 2014, he was appointed class representative for Decision-Making and Value Studies and appointed to the Voting Committee of Metanoia, became a member of the Black Management Forum and the Stellenbosch chapter of the United Nations Association of South Africa (UNASA). By 2015 Shane had completed the Emerging Maties course at the FVZS and was elected to the House Committee for Metanoia. At the same time he was an academic mentor, and a member of the Constitutional Committee and Community Interaction Committee of the residence.  Despite his responsibilities, he also excelled academically and attained two distinctions at the end of 2015. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"If I had a full academic timetable cramped into three years of study, I would not have been able to do all this and develop myself beyond only having a degree," says Shane. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">"I never understood fully back in the day why I was being subjected to teasing about my stuttering problem on a daily basis and why this was happening to me, however, I now realise I was being prepared to become more purpose driven. The leadership development opportunities and my experiences as an individual prepared me for anything I want to achieve in my life. The stuttering and the limping actually built and developed my strength of character as an individual.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">"My parents also played a big role as they have sacrificed so much for me over the years, despite not having much to give and have encouraged me to finish my degree and to go on to postgraduate studies."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Busiswa feels the same about completing her degree over a longer period of time. In her first year, she dived straight into a range of leadership courses – Democracy and Active Citizenship, Women Leadership, Leadership through Community Interaction, and Facilitative Leadership – presented by FVZS and would later be selected to live in a Listen, Live and Learn (LLL) house in 2014 and 2015 and further expand on her leadership skills. The LLL initiative is offered to a select few senior students who want to live in one of its themed houses and engage with fellow students, a house guide (a staff member with expertise/interest in the theme), and invited guests around themes like gender equality, sustainability, technology and innovation, ethical leadership, and education and community amongst others.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">As part of her degree programme, Busiswa also decided to pursue Chinese in her first year and did so well that she was selected to participate in an exchange programme to Xiamen University in China for the 15 top students in her second year of studies. She also completed her third-year of Chinese in two years. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">While living in Huis Russel Botman House, she served as the student leader responsible for the Constitution Portfolio in 2015 and in 2016 became Vice-Chair and a facilitator for the first-years' Welcoming Programme. She has also been a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society since 2014, an "academic recognition which testifies to her excellent academic results, her leadership qualities and her constructive approach to life in general" says Jonker. At the same time, she has made a difference in the lives of individuals from disadvantaged communities through the mentorship programme of Media 24's Rachel's Angels since 2014. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Asked about what they hope to gain from participating in the Washington leg of SAWIP, Busiswa says: "I think the value that I am going to take away from SAWIP is a reignited passion for deepening justice in South Africa. It will definitely empower me and equip me with the necessary knowledge and skill set to tackle or to address social justice issues in South Africa. It will give me a broadened and informed outlook on how we go about addressing the challenges of transformation, because currently when we speak of transformation in South Africa we forget that we are not only talking about race transformation, but gender  and socio-economic transformation too. I definitely want to continue with postgraduate studies, either International Relations at Stellenbosch or Development and Policy Studies at Wits University, after SAWIP and finishing my undergraduate degree because at the end of the day all of this will help me to pursue a career in economic policy implementation." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Says Shane: "This opportunity will definitely assist me with improving my leadership style and as an individual. It will also help me to look at South Africa with all its complexities and all of its injustice of the past from a different perspective and to focus on creating hope and the great potential we still have to work towards the South Africa we want. My aim is to work in socio-economic policy development and implementation in future, so hopefully when I get to Washington, I will be working with people in those fields already and can learn from them and bring that expertise back to South Africa and make a contribution in that way." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Anyone who would like to support Busiswa and Shane can do so by making a contribution to SAWIP, Standard Bank, Brooklyn, 051001 (code for electronic transfers), account number: 137380917 and use their full name and surname as reference. For more details, the Chief Operating Officer of SAWIP, Ms Sally Currin can be contacted at 083 447 7909.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photo: Busiswa Sobahle (left) and Shane Sass have received an opportunity of a lifetime to participate in the prestigious international SA-Washington leadership development programme and will be departing for Washington in the United States in June to complete a part of the programme there. (Anton Jordaan, SSFD)</em></p>
International knowledge exchange benefits social work students in SA and abroad knowledge exchange benefits social work students in SA and abroadLynne Rippenaar-Moses<p style="text-align:justify;">​​​In the Social Work Department at Stellenbosch University (SU), international knowledge exchange opportunities have become an important aspect of the teaching and learning offering.  <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Many social work students and academics from abroad have visited the Social Work Department, which is based in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, over the last few months providing visitors and SU students alike with a more broader understanding of social work in a globalised context.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“You only understand the global impact on your micro environment when you have contact with social workers outside South Africa. It's difficult for our students to really understand the impact of globalisation on social work if they are not exposed to global experiences. Through these experiences they are able to look beyond the street child begging for money at that moment, but understand the wider impact of social work on society and the global neoliberal discourse on social welfare. This is very important," says Prof Lambert Engelbrecht, the Chair of the Social Work Department. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“These types of programmes are also important for our department as it helps us to think beyond the research that we do and look at the impact of knowledge exchange between our students who come from different environments. Social work can be very contextual, but there are still parallels to be drawn between different countries. Learning from other contexts helps you to play an even bigger role in South Africa beyond that of social worker and understand the role social workers can play to influence social welfare policies to the benefit of social work service users all over the world." <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">One such visit took place earlier this year when a group of students from the University of Southern California (USC) visited the department as part of their Global Immersion Programme focusing on the design, development, deployment and scaling of social work innovations in South Africa.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The 25 students, who graduated with a Masters degree in Social Work at USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, were hosted by the SU department. They were accompanied by Prof Renée Smith-Maddox, a Clinical Professor and Diversity Liaison at the School, and Prof Stacy Kratz, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Virtual Academic Center at USC.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Their visit also coincided with the department's celebrations of World Social Work Day, which took place in March this year. At SU, the day is celebrated each year by the Social Work Department with interesting seminars presented by academic leaders in the social work field. The theme for 2019 focuses on Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Smith-Maddox, South Africa was selected as the site for USC's Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Global Immersion Program for several reasons. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It was an opportunity to take emerging social workers on the School's inaugural immersion experience in SA and engage them in specialised graduate study for their social work practice and expose the students to the historical and socio-political context of SA, its trends in social innovation, and how community stakeholders play a part in their own empowerment. We also wanted to conduct a comparative analysis of the social welfare system and the role of social workers in South Africa and the United States," said Smith-Maddox.<br></p><p>The group, said Smith-Maddox, was also able to learn more about the service experiences of South African social workers and understand the opportunities their counterparts had for advocacy work, community engagement and social innovation.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Collectively, USC's social work students, Dr Kratz, and I had an opportunity to learn from a tremendous group of people while immersing ourselves in a different cultural context. Combined with the diverse individuals and groups we got to meet, interact, and connect deeply with, it was life-changing for all of us. Through our interactions and observations we were able to raise our level of awareness of how social problems as well as the solutions to them are globally interconnected," she added.<br></p><p>Kratz said that with both USC and SU's Social Work Department focused on “educating and training" students to solve the most complex problems of the day, visiting South Africa as part of the global immersion programme, propelled USC “students to challenge their current thought processes, especially in terms of the inherent tensions between inclusion and exclusion". </p><p>“These students are global citizens: leaders and innovators who have massively increased their problem-solving and analytical capabilities, their tolerance for ambiguity, and deepened their respect for empathy."​<br></p><p>She added: “Designing and implementing the USC Global Immersion with Dr Smith-Maddox, and constructing the Stellenbosch venture with Dr Engelbrecht profoundly expanded my belief in the critical importance of building relationships with social workers from other countries and cultures."<br></p><p>“This immersion allowed us to provide the brave space for meaningful dialogue of how thiscomplex and multifaceted phenomenon impacts communities, and individuals. The Stellenbosch experience will live on with long-term and lifelong rewards for all the students, and the people they eventually will serve."<br></p><p>The feedback from the USC students who had participated in the programme indicated that they had also found it to be beneficial.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">According to Lisa Liberatore, one of the many reasons she applied for the South Africa Global Immersion programme was to “learn how social work practice was contextualised and operationalised outside the United States". Cape Town, she said, provided the ideal opportunity to do so. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“It opened my conscious to see how social work pedagogy and professional practice fail to address colonisation and the impact it has had on indigenous, black and brown communities around the world, but particularly how in the United States it is often shunned or ignored to allow for the tolerance of cognitive dissonance of individuals who have not truly understood their privilege or how it has played out in their lives, many of whom are in the social work field."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Liberatore said that the visit also offered her an “opportunity for experiential learning of ethical, effective community development practice in the unique historical and sociopolitical context of South Africa". <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Through the immersion opportunity I hoped to study macro social work strategies and practices in South Africa that were ameliorating impacts of systemically rooted marginalisation and persistent poverty in order to better understand how I might find more innovative and effective approaches to address these challenges back in the United States upon my return."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Listening to the knowledge and experiences shared by SU students, academics and practising social workers, Liberatore said it became clear “that imposing top-down, one-size-fits-all solutions to systemic, entrenched social problems is not effective". <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The foundation of social change is instead to empower people to become agents of their own change. The role of social workers in creating meaningful, scalable social change through community development is to empower impacted people through localised, bottom-up initiatives that involve their input at all stages of design and implementation."<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Fellow student, Tiffany (Tea) Dang, found that “despite the environmental differences" between the two countries, that some of the issues the United States and South Africa faced, were quite similar.  <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“The human experience of poverty, oppression, and inequalities are universal. This immersion gave us a platform to practice and focus more on collaboration; learning from each other's experiences and applying it to better our own communities," said Dang.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><em>Photo: A group of 25 students who recently earned a Master</em><em> </em><em> </em><em>in Social Work degree</em><em> </em><em> from the University of Southern California (USC) Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work visited the Social Work Department at Stellenbosch University as part of a Global Immersion Programme that forms part of their social work studies. (Anton Jordaan, SSFD)</em></p>
Mental illnesses among youth often ignored, says SU expert illnesses among youth often ignored, says SU expertCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Alec Basson]<p>​Young people with mental health problems, especially those in low- and middle-income countries, are often being left in the lurch when they need help. They don't always get the necessary treatment despite the fact that mental illnesses among young people are on the increase globally. <br></p><p>“Mental health problems among young people are serious. If left untreated, they can adversely impact young people's social, personal and academic development. Young people with mental illnesses also face problems with social stigma, isolation and discrimination," says Dr Jason Bantjes a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Stellenbosch University (SU). Bantjes does research on the suicide prevention and the promotion of mental health. His work is supported by a grant from the South African Medical Research Council.<br></p><p>Bantjes says it would be naive to think that young people do not develop serious mental health problems like anxiety disorders and depression. Young people are also prone to stress- and trauma-related disorders, and behavioural disorders, including problems with attention and impulse control. <br></p><p>“The fact that the theme for this year's World Mental Health Day (10 October) is 'Young people and mental health in a changing world,' shows that this is much more serious than we may think."</p><p>Bantjes also points to studies that highlight the gravity of the situation.<br></p><p>“The World Health Organisation reports that worldwide between 10 and 20% of children and adolescents have mental health problems. Approximately half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters start by the time an individual is in his/her mid-20s, although these often go undiagnosed and untreated."<img class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="SU Student Mental Health Infographic-english.jpg" src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/SU%20Student%20Mental%20Health%20Infographic-english.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:476px;height:333px;" /><br></p><p>“A large international study found that one-fifth (20.3%) of university students experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months; 83.1% of these cases had pre-matriculation onsets."<br></p><p>“Ongoing research as part of the Caring Universities Project, undertaken by a consortium of researchers from UCT and SU, suggest that only about only about one fifth of first-year students with a mental health problem receive treatment."<br></p><p>“Closer to home, a study of school-aged children in Cape Town found that 22.2% of children met diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder."<br></p><p>While genetic factors and temperament play a role in predisposing young people to mental illness, Bantjes says there's evidence that early childhood adversity makes individuals vulnerable to mental and physical health problems.  He adds that the psychological wellbeing of children also suffers when their parents have untreated mental health problems.<br></p><p>Bantjes says it remains a concern that in many parts of the developing world, young people with mental illness struggle to access effective evidence-based mental health care and face the possibility of exclusion from educational institutions. <br></p><p>“Left untreated childhood mental disorders persist into adulthood and cause impairments in both physical and mental health. Longstanding mental health problems impede a person's ability to lead a fulfilling live, form mutually satisfying relationships, and be an active engaged member of their communities."<br></p><p>According to Bantjes, there are many reasons why so many young people with mental health problems do not receive the help they need.  <br></p><p>“Common barriers to accessing care in low- and middle-income countries include ignorance about the signs and symptoms of childhood disorders, a lack of understanding about children's emotional and attachment needs, a lack of suitably qualified mental health professionals, and inadequate child and adolescent mental health services."<br></p><p>He says it is not always easy to recognise a young person with a mental illness. <br></p><p>“Sometimes we dismiss the signs and symptoms and think that the person is being demanding or is just going through a 'difficult phase'."  <br></p><p>“When it comes to children who need psychological care, it is not uncommon for them to be labelled as naughty or uncooperative by those who don't understand the emotional needs of children and don't recognise that children sometimes use challenging behaviour to communicate psychological distress." <br></p><p>Bantjes calls for accessible, affordable and effective psychiatric and mental health care services for young people and their families, as early intervention and the provision of evidence-based treatments is one of the cornerstones of promoting mental health.<br></p><p>“Schools, universities and families have an important role to play in facilitating young people's social and psychological development and building their resilience. We need schools and universities which are safe, free of bullying, and where young people can find a sense of belonging and connectedness."<br></p><p>Bantjes says we must help young people learn interpersonal skills, so that they foster mutually satisfying relationships, since interpersonal connections act as buffers against the vicissitudes of life.<br></p><ul><li>​Photo courtesy of Pixabay.<br></li><li>Infographic by Nicolas Dorfling (Corporate Communication Division).<br></li></ul><p><strong>FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p>Dr Jason Bantjes</p><p>Department of Psychology</p><p>Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences<br></p><p>Stellenbosch University</p><p>Tel: 021 808 2665<br></p><p>E-mail: <a href=""></a>    </p><p><strong> </strong><strong>       ISSUED BY</strong></p><p>Martin Viljoen<br></p><p>Manager: Media</p><p>Corporate Communication</p><p>Stellenbosch University</p><p>Tel: 021 808 4921</p><p>E-mail: <a href=""></a>  </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p><br> </p>