Mental health literacy of young people in South Africa: A study of University of KwaZulu-Natal students.
Zita, Constance Thulsile.
MetadataShow full item record
The central objective of the present study was to investigate the mental health literacy of the University of KwaZulu-Natal undergraduate Black students. The specific objective was to explore the level of the students’ mental health literacy as a prelude to determining the extent to which there is need to promote the students’ constant awareness of their mental health status. A quantitative research method was employed in implementing the study. A total sample of 128 participants was included in the data collection process. A structured survey questionnaire consisting of 15 questions about mental health disorders and people’s perceptions of mental illness served as the study’s instrument for data collection. The results of the study show that 39.1% of participants were able to identify the major symptoms of common mental health disorders about the excessive use of substances. This comprises less than the simple majority of the participants studied. Furthermore, the results of the study revealed that 42.2% of the participants could accurately identify the symptoms of mental health illness regarding impairment in areas such as social, academic, relationships, and emotional stability. Similarly, the study discovered that 46.1% of the participants could accurately identify a difficulty in concentration, poor memory, and poor decision making as symptoms of mental illness. In addition, only 27.3% of the participants could accurately identify a disturbance in sleeping patterns and a change in appetite as symptoms of mental illness. The results of the study also show that about 28.1% of the participants could accurately identify the non-stop experiences of headache without any medical explanation as a symptom of mental illness. Overall, however, the results of the study suggest that majority of the participants do not have sufficient mental health literacy. The implications of these findings were drawn. The researcher adopted the recommendation by the overwhelming majority of the participants (90.6) that a Mental Health Wellness Centre be established at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to improve the mental health literacy of the students. Implications for further research were also briefly drawn.