University can provide the best years of a person’s life, with a seemingly constant influx of young people eager to take advantage of the educational and social opportunities on offer. But South Africa’s halls of academia are not immune to the many problems of society, and they bring their own academic pressures – all of which can have a negative impact on the wellness of students.
The University of Cape Town (UCT) offers several services to help students cope with the daily stresses of student life.
UCT Student Careline
The university has collaborated with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) to offer students a professional and confidential service that will help them to deal with mental health issues. In order to address problems effectively, students are encouraged to seek assistance and guidance as early as possible.
The SADAG UCT Student Careline (0800 24 25 26 free from a Telkom line or SMS 31393 for a call-me-back) offers 24/7 telephonic counselling and general support to students who are facing mental health challenges or contemplating suicide. The line is also available to offer support and advice to anyone who is concerned about a student who might be in distress. Operators are able to offer advice and refer callers to both internal UCT resources (Student Wellness Service, Department of Student Affairs, social workers) and external mental health resources (NGO, public and private).
The SADAG UCT Student Careline is also available in instances where a student has been placed on a waiting list by the Student Wellness Service or if they require emotional support while waiting for an appointment.
The SADAG website contains useful information about mental health issues as well as details of their national helplines.
Other numbers that are available for students in distress include LifeLine 021 461 1111/3 and the
Suicide Helpline which can be reached on 0800 567 567.
Student Wellness Service
UCT’s Student Wellness Service offers a comprehensive outpatient health service that is staffed by both medical doctors and nurses. The service is dedicated to helping students to remain healthy and to make the correct life choices while pursuing their academic goals.
The comprehensive outpatient service includes the following:
The cost is R25 up front to see a nurse (unless the student is on financial aid, in which case it’s free). A consultation with a doctor is charged according to current medical aid rates and psychological services are charged on a sliding scale from R20 to R120.
The Student Wellness Service is located in the Ivan Toms Building at 28 Rhodes Ave, Mowbray. There is also a clinic on upper campus on Level 6 of the Steve Biko Students’ Union building where students can see a nurse on a walk-in basis for minor complaints (08:30 to 16:30).
Sexual Assault Response Team
Sexual assault is a devastating reality of South African life and UCT students are at risk despite the security measures that are in place across campus.
The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is a collective of experts who volunteer to provide support and resources to students immediately following an incident of sexual assault.
The team works to ensure that all survivors of sexual violence receive consistent and compassionate care.
Contact the 24-hour hotline on 072 393 7824 or sart.uct.ac.za.
UCT’s Disability Service works towards removing all physical, policy, information and attitudinal barriers that might prevent disabled students and staff from fulfilling their potential.
UCT’s topography poses access challenges for students and staff with mobility disabilities, but the university recognises that there are many different types of disability, including learning and psychosocial disabilities, which also present various challenges.
The mission of the Disability Service is to empower students to reach their potential in every aspect of their lives, whether this means improving building access, arranging for extra time during exams or employing sign-language interpreters.
The Disability Service is located on the fourth floor (access via lift and stairs) of the Steve Biko Students’ Union building and can be contacted on 021 650 2427.
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