Student support services: an exploration of the use of psychological services by students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg Campus.
Dlamini, Siphesihle Sandile.
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Many students experience their first psychiatric episode while at a tertiary institution. Thus, it is not surprising that most higher education institutions have psychological services on their premises. Psychological services at universities aim to enhance and promote students psychological well-being and to reduce psychological distress in students' lives, so that students have the mental and emotional stability to face their daily challenges. However, students are reported to feel shame and guilt when they are struggling psychologically. This mixed-methods study explored the usage rate of psychological services and reasons why students may opt not to utilize psychological services at UKZN, PMB campus. The result of this study suggest that the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science made more use of the services than the College of Humanities. This usage of psychological services was mainly for academic difficulties. More undergraduates and female students used the services, and it commonly was Black students that utilized psychological services the most on campus. Participants in the focus groups reported not to be aware of psychological services on campus. Some participants preferred to receive support from their families and religion, whilst other participants preferred to be supported by psychological services on campus. Furthermore, participants reported various barriers to help-seeking behaviour, including race, as well as one’s background with regards to exposure to psychological services prior to being a student. Overall, most participants identified lack of awareness about psychological services as the main reason why they opted not to utilize the services.