The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) sends a crucial message to matric learners facing final examinations: you are not alone, and help and hope are available. Throughout the year, SADAG receives calls from stressed and overwhelmed matriculants grappling with academic pressures and various other challenges prevalent in South Africa, including family discord, substance abuse, abuse at home, trauma, bullying, bereavement, and grief.
In response to these needs, SADAG is launching a free online matric exams support group, open to all matric learners every Sunday and Wednesday from 17:00 to 18:00, with the next meeting scheduled for November 15. Registration is available at https://bit.ly/MatricExamSG or www.sadag.org. Additionally, SADAG will host weekly live sessions on matric exams, discussing coping skills, stress management, and answering live questions. These sessions will be on TikTok every Tuesday at 18:00 and on Instagram every Thursday at 18:00. To join, follow SADAG on Instagram @sadag_official and TikTok @sadag_official.
Roshni Parbhoo-Seetha, SADAG’s school’s outreach coordinator, emphasises the need to change the conversation around final exams for teenagers, highlighting the detrimental impact of excessive pressure. While exams are important, they should not supersede mental health or life itself. The organisation aims to normalise these experiences, encouraging at-risk teens to seek help.
Clinical psychologist Chris Kemp emphasises that supporting matrics during exams goes beyond academic results, emphasising the importance of passing on the message that their well-being matters. Learners can access various options beyond exams, such as re-marks, supplementary exams, bridging courses, or alternative means of education. Creating an environment where youth feel safe to discuss their emotional experiences is crucial.
Parents, caregivers, and guardians play a significant role, and SADAG advises them to be mindful of their communication to avoid unintentionally creating excessive expectations. Encouraging conversations about emotional experiences rather than focusing solely on study schedules and exam readiness can shift the emphasis away from results and back to the individual’s experience.
SADAG also provides additional support channels for matrics, including a suicide toll-free helpline (0800 567 567), SMS service (text 31393 for a callback), and WhatsApp (087 163 2030). For coping tips, help, and resources, individuals can visit www.sadag.org. The organisation stresses the importance of empathy and understanding in supporting matrics during this challenging time.
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Photo: Facebook / @The South African Depression and Anxiety Group