UKZN Students Champion Mental Health Awareness amongst High Schools in Umlazi

Two College of Health Sciences students and an alumnus of the UKZN Medical School spearheaded a mental health awareness drive for selected high schools in Umlazi township recently in commemoration of Mental Health Month. The students, Mr Clement Agoni and Mr Yanga Mdleleni and alumnus, Dr Thandeka Maphumulo-Ngcobo are members of the Global Shapers Community Durban Hub, an initiative of the World Economic Forum.

Collaborating with local partners, notably, Durban and Coastal Mental Health, Match, Kguspa and the Umlazi U21 Clinic, the event brought together around 200 teenagers from four high schools, Zwelihle High, Igagasi High, Okumhlophe Secondary and Sishosonke Secondary. Various health professionals, including mental health practitioners and counsellors addressed topical issues such as substance abuse amongst teenagers and its relationship to mental health.

The leader of the Durban Global Shapers health team, Agoni noted that, ‘teenagers in high schools are under immense pressure from various external factors that could negatively affect their mental health and their academic performance in the long run. As a Durban hub, we believe this outreach could be a way to inform them of the interventions available to address their mental health concerns.’

The Mental Health Awareness Drive is one of the numerous projects undertaken by the Global Shapers Durban Hub to drive change in communities within eThekwini Municipality. They are committed to building and growing a community of change agents that have a positive impact on society.

Agoni is a doctoral student under the supervision of Professor Mahmoud Soliman in the Discipline of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, while Mdleleni is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Drs Lenine Liebenberg and Wendy Mphatswe in the School of Laboratory Medicine.

Words: Lihle Sosibo