Everyone faces problems in life, whether young or old, poor or rich. It does not matter how big or small one’s problem may be because at the end of the day a problem is a problem.
The University of Zambia (UNZA) has in the past years recorded suicide cases among students, this goes to show that students at the institution are faced with problems also. However, the institution has a counseling center whose responsibility among others is to attend to student’s psychological needs.
Most students know of the existence of the counseling center but only a few utilize the services offered there. Nevertheless, the students who go to the counseling center often do so to get assistance on issues not related to counseling. Therefore, this begs the question, where do students go when they are faced with psycho-socio problems?
Perhaps this stems from the prejudice associated with seeking professional psychological help; most students see the counseling center as a safe haven for students with “big” problems like being HIV positive.
UNZA Counseling center acting senior counselor, Mr Mseteka Newstead said the bad perceptions students have of the center is due to lack of information offered by the facility.
“They think the counseling services offered here are not professional and only sick people or those with psycho-social problems are worth seeking counseling”, he said.
“However, the most affected students are the ones with psycho-social problems because when the mind is disturbed counseling is necessary as one cannot do anything productive”, he added.
Mr Mseteka asserted that psycho-social problems are those that deal with relationships that is, family, roommates, dating and unwanted pregnancies.
“These calls for intensive psychological counseling because such cases may lead to suicide” he explained.
A second year student in the school of education said he cannot go to the counseling center because he is not HIV positive and that he doesn’t like to disclosing his issues to anyone.
While another student who has been at the center expressed optimism at the services offered there.
“The counselling center created an open environment such that I was comfortable to share everything that I had, they are the best people you can ever run to when you are troubled,” she stated.
The counseling center has a wide range of services that are offered that most students may not know of such as career guidance, stress management and life skills. Furthermore, the center also provides referrals to clinics, social welfare, schools and also liaise on behalf of students with financial problems to donors agencies that offer scholarships.