University students tipped on managing mental health

Students attend the empowerment programme at Equator University of Science and Technology in Masaka City on June 14, 2024. PHOTO | ANTONIO KALYANGO

What you need to know:

  • Prof Mouhamad Mpezamihigo, the Vice Chancellor of EQUSaT, highlighted the connection between mental health and academic success. He stated that increasing suicide rates among students indicate "piling stress" caused by factors like poor social media use and financial mismanagement.

University students have been advised to address stress and anxiety before they escalate to suicidal thoughts. 

Dr Betijuma Luwedde, a national mental health trainer, spoke at Equator University of Science and Technology (EQUSaT) in Masaka City, urging students to seek help when facing challenges like financial hardship and broken relationships. 

“Even other people face difficulties in life, but the way they are managed matters a lot. So, I advise you to always speak to any immediate person and the authorities around you and this can be a very important reliever,” Dr Luwedde emphasised.

Her talk was part of the annual Youths Empowerment Programme, which focuses on mental health, financial literacy, and leadership, for students from various universities in Greater Masaka on Friday.

Prof Mouhamad Mpezamihigo, the Vice Chancellor of EQUSaT, highlighted the connection between mental health and academic success. He stated that increasing suicide rates among students indicate "piling stress" caused by factors like poor social media use and financial mismanagement.

“Our students are exposed to all sorts of unfiltered content on the internet which influence them to make decisions leading to a number of problems today including committing suicide,” he noted.
 
He explained how the training program also incorporates financial literacy to equip students with skills for self-sufficiency, potentially reducing the need for risky behavior.
 
Mr David Sserukenya, MP for Makindye-Ssabagabo and an EQUSaT student, applauded the training's focus on good leadership practices. He hopes it will help prevent future corruption and abuse of office.
 
“The current regime has narrowed the civic space and many youth are lacking opportunities of being taught about leadership, with this forum we shall nurture young leaders who are having Uganda,” he noted.

Mr Hassan Kibirige, the chief executive officer for Helping Hand, has urged the government to prioritise youth empowerment programmes so that their capacities are enhanced to become productive citizens.

“Our intervention cannot reach every youth, but we urge the government to ensure that all youth are engaged in productive programmes so that they can contribute to the development of our country,” he said.  

There are increasing cases of students committing suicide at various universities with some attributed to broken relationships among other challenges.

Statistics from the Uganda Refugee Suicide Dashboard for January-April 2024 show a concerning trend. During this period, 80 people attempted suicide, with 21 deaths. Notably, 59 of those who attempted suicide were refugees, and 21 were Ugandans.