The University of Zambia (UNZA) under the department of Psychology has introduced the Moodgym programme to help students cope with depression during the COVID-19 period.
Associate Professor of Health Psychology Anitha Menon, said the Moodgym programme that only received funding in December 2020 is underway.
Professor Menon said that for programme, only a total of 1000 students from universities in Zambia, Botswana and Malawi, will be offered opportunity to enroll.
“All students from UNZA and participating universities will have access to Covid Education for African Students (COVEDAS) which will be available online,”Menon.
She also said that contact numbers of two staff members in the Psychiatry department will be provided to students to direct them to the appropriate referral centers as needed.
This is a COVID specific project that will run for 18 months, but if found effective, can be used in other conditions,Menon.
Meanwhile, counsellors at UNZA Counselling Centre have shared mixed reviews about the prospects of online counselling.
Newstead Mseteka, a counsellor at the university, said online counselling is a good initiative but has its own limitations.
If someone is depressed, they may need medical attention which cannot be accessed online, because a doctor will have to examine the patient physically,Mseteka.
The counsellor said online counselling is a good initiative but is not efficient, especially when the patient is in serious stages of depression.
It is also difficult to reach out to family and friends of the patient to inform them of the situation and in a similar manner, it would be hard for a counsellor to determine what stage of depression the patient is at,Mseteka.
Students at UNZA have also welcomed the Moodgym programme as it allows students to access counselling online while at home and without stigma.
Students Activist Zachariah Mulinde said this programme is essential during the COVID period because many people are distressed.
He said that the programme would help many students to adjust to the pressure and changes that have come with the pandemic.