Repository logo

Mental health literacy and its impact on educational achievement among University of KwaZulu-Natal students residing in residence.

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The study aimed to explore mental health literacy and its impact on educational achievement among University of KwaZulu-Natal students residing in the University’s residences. Despite the paucity of study in this area, notably in South Africa, the continent has seen an increase in mental health issues, even in higher education. Substance abuse, suicide, injury to others, and poor academic achievement are the major outcomes of mental ill health. The study focused on students residing at university campus. Due to the limited coverage of the subject on the African continent in general and South Africa in particular, the study used a qualitative research approach and an exploratory research design. The researcher used the purposive sampling method to pick a sample of 14 participants. Semi-structured interviews constituted the data collection method, as they were capable of profoundly demonstrating a link between mental health and academic excellence. The findings revealed poor levels of mental health literacy among the participants, which is a significant factor in determining this perceived link. Academic work-related pressure reportedly induced mental health concerns, while mental health issues were found to be the cause of poor academic performance. Mental health literacy constituted a critical element in the enhancement of help-seeking behaviour, timely accessing treatments, reducing stigma, and, most significantly, having the ability to assist others. Furthermore, the findings and reviewed literature depict students living in the University residences as vulnerable to mental health challenges. This owed to the contrasting home and school environments, adjustment issues, financial constraints, a lack of residence-based social support, and incompatible roommates. The study made several recommendations, including the need to raise mental health literacy from primary school to tertiary education institutions and to use infographics about mental health illnesses, such as the one created by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to eliminate stigma, motivate help-seeking behaviour, and eliminate suicide ideation and related consequences.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.