Addressing the issue of anxiety and our mental wellbeing

Matric may be over but the challenges aren’t.

An interview with Nonhlanhla Dube of Boston City Campus

  1. Now that exams are over for matrics, after a horrible year, how should they cope with the wait until results are released? What challenges do you believe they are facing?
  • Waking up and not having anything to do for the day. No more study schedules to follow, no structure to the day.
  • Maybe not having decided on what next
  • Waiting for results and the anxiety of what they will be
  • Waiting to hear if you have been accepted into your selected course and the delayed start of tertiary for 2021
  • The pressure of not performing well, and maybe disappointing yourself and others who believe in you.
  1. What advice do you have to combat the anxiety?
  • Start making your plans and goals for 2021. Decide on what industry you want to study in. Complete the Career Compass at Boston to find your industry. Then establish ALL the options that are in that industry eg IT. If you are expecting good results in maths, the systems diploma is a great option. If your results are not what you expected look at N+ which gets you into the industry.  If that is not an option, then there are other qualifications such as data capture, computer clerk and others. What we want to say is there will always be an option to get into your preferred industry!
  • Remain active – you deserve a rest but you need to be doing stuff! Read, rest, connect digitally with friends. Look for work. Try get a few weeks of vac work – it will give you a reason to get up in the morning, a chance to earn some money, and an opportunity to network. And it’s great for your mental health!
  • Be proactive for future studies – make applications, make inquiries and speak to counsellors. This will not just fall in your lap.
  • Start creating a CV if you do not have one, keep a file with certificates and a record of all work you do. Ask for reference letter as soon as the work is completed – it’s easier than going back to ask after time has passed.
  1. Let’s address the issue of anxiety and our mental wellbeing?
  • This affects everyone – we have had a nasty confusing and horrible year. Yes, we all have things we can be grateful for but 2020 threw us off our tracks.  Believe in yourself, find your niche and have confidence, be kind to others and most important, be gentle to yourself. This is important advice!!  You will feel pressure from school from teachers, parents and friends, they may have high expectations, you may be concerned about disappointing them. But there is always a next step for you. Create NOW plan B. and then create plan C. If you create your new options, you will feel calmer.
  1. How does Boston address this anxiety that students feel?
  • Boston makes sure that there is a study opportunity for everyone, as much as possible! We provide free career counselling to everyone, with no commitment. We have established a Graduate+ programme to help with extraneous matters such as CV building, interview techniques, advice for employment and various learnership and job opportunities.
  1. Can you really say that everything will be ok when you don’t know what student results will be?

Imagine the worst, and then you can face it if it happens. If the worst is that you fail  -then decide now on your plan B. Do you rewrite matric? Or do you try do a qualification for which a matric is not needed? Our advice from Boston is to redo matric.  There are options if you don’t have a matric, but we do believe that if you have the capacity, it is worth investing in your future and repeating if you did not pass. And it’s NOT a big deal!

  • There is a lot out there and the next best step is to speak to a counsellor and find out what are your plan A,  plan B and plan C options. Then when you get your results you will be calm because no matter what, there is a plan in place.



Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline
0800 70 80 90

SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837

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Coping with retrenchment – a ‘how to’

2020 can basically be summed up as “The year of living differently”. Every year we have upheavals, natural disasters and other events that have to be made sense of so that we can lead normalised lifestyles. We cannot make sense of 2020, so we have to work on getting through each day and adapting our goals. 2019 was a year of major retrenchments, 2020 has seen even more retrenchments, businesses closing, and people losing their profession eg travel agents, pilots, CEO’s.

In a time of uncertainty with the added change in daily routine and the insecurity of needing to earn an income, setting new goals is very difficult. “However, take control of your life and plan ahead.  Proactive steps will empower you and put your more in charge of the situation,” says Taryn Steenkamp, Head of National Sales at Boston City Campus.

Steenkamp provides the following advice:

Your employer

Have you been let go? Remember, this is a worldwide event, do not take it personally. Engage with your company.  Find out about your pension and provident fund, and the Unemployment Insurance which is SUPPOSED to help you for up to 6 months, taking away some of the pressure.

Find out if you have an income protect policy which will pay you out.

Communicate with your creditors so that you can make the necessary arrangements to avoid falling into bad debt.

Use backup

Use your network of family and friends for advice, coaching and support.  This is especially important if you have children, you will need to be able to leave your kids in a safe place while you go off to an interview.

Keep busy

Finding a new job is your new job. Don’t allow yourself to fall into a slump. You need a daily purpose, and a schedule. Keep your mind active.

Enrol for a short course or even a degree that enhances your skills and adds value to your CV, increasing your employment eligibility.  Boston has payment plans and is modular based so now is a good time to get qualifications that put you ahead of the rest in the unemployment queue. Boston also has qualifications that will help you set up your own business, consulting in IT or selling a product or service. Studies will open your eyes to new ideas and give you the confidence to set out on your own. Volunteer some of your time – either at a business which can use your skillset or a non-profit organisation or schools.

Find ways to start over

Be open to taking other jobs to get you on your feet again.  Be creative in terms of your resources.  From looking after kids, taking to and from school, becoming an Uber driver.  Recruit -my -mom is an outstanding source of funds and temporary work.

Leverage your LinkedIn network to offer your services.

Re-skill yourself.

Coping emotionally

“Keep in mind that this is happening to you.  It’s not who you are.  It has everything to do with the economic environment,” says Steenkamp.

Focus on the things over which you have control.

  • Get up and get dressed early every day.
  • Go to job centres and register with the department of labour.
  • Keep yourself busy with tasks
  • Try earn money taking on odd jobs to help you avoid losing your self-value.

“Manage your expectations.  While there are opportunities, this process can take 6 – 18 months to find a job comparative with the one you lost,” says Steenkamp.

Suntosh Pillay says that the Pandemic has caused an emotional Tsunami. Add to that the outcome of retrenchment, “leaves people in a perpetual state of stress” he says. “Taking proactive steps can help you manage this challenging time,” says Steenkamp.  “Get sleep, exercise and keep your mind active.  It is a difficult time but keep on reminding yourself that this too shall pass, and you will soon be back on your feet”.


Student Wellness Module

“Dear Robyn,

I trust this email finds you well,

I am sending this email as a student of Boston City Campus. I would just like to take this opportunity to applaud you and to thank you for your inspiration and guidance through the Student Wellness module on COLCampus.

I am writing 2 exams on Friday, and I gave myself minimal time to study, and today, I started feeling the stress, anxiety and the pressure for my upcoming exams.

I looked to the Student Wellness module for some inspiration and peace of mind, and I cannot be more satisfied after reading some of your announcements.

I would just like to thank you for the amount of effort and consideration that you put into the module for the benefit of the students.

It truly shows that we at Boston care about our students, and it’s an absolute honor to be able to read something like that from a student’s perspective, and being able to guide students to those announcements from an Educators’s perspective.

You are awesome!

Thank you!

Have a lovely evening further,

Kind regards,

Student P”

Let’s speak about the unspeakable – suicide awareness and mental health

Let’s speak about the unspeakable – suicide awareness and mental health

 According to the World Health Organisation close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year.

Suicide is not about wanting to die; it is about wanting to end one’s unbearable pain of despair, anxiety or depression. It’s about not being able to see a way out of a situation.

“The people around us are valuable, life is precious, and we must try do everything in our power to stop people from making negative and irreversible decisions,” says Nonhlanhla Dube of Boston City Campus.

People need to feel valued and loved.  We can make a difference, showing them, “I believe in you,” – giving a person a sense of hope, that there is always a plan b, no matter how bad a situation may seem at the time.  We can’t promise people everything will work out the way they want it to – but we can show them that there is another possibility, and we can try help someone in pain.

Nonhlanhla gives a few tips on how you can help them:

Pay close attention

If someone mentions that they are dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts – do not dismiss it as something they can handle on their own. Talking about their feelings means they are asking for help – even if they aren’t explicitly saying “Help me.”


Don’t sweep difficult subjects under the rug.  If you are concerned that someone is considering suicide, openly ask them about it and talk about their feelings.


Sometimes a person who is thinking terrible thoughts just needs a friend to be a sounding board to express their fears, anger, and despair.

Face it head-on

After you listen to them, ask them openly: “Are you thinking about suicide/ harming yourself?”  Let them know you are there for them and that they are not alone.

“Keep in mind that while you can offer support, you can’t heal them.  When you give advice, it should be to seek professional help from someone trained in this aspect of counselling.

Never hide it

If someone needs help, you have a responsibility to help them. Don’t agree to confidentiality.

We all want to be there for our friends when they need us, but what should we do if they open up to us about their mental health struggles? Laura, 17, shares her tips.

Assess whether you are mentally stable enough to support them –

Listen to them.

Ask what they would like from you.

Talk to an adult.

Check up on them.

Nonhlanhla continues saying she understands that we all are dealing with our own issues. “It’s okay if you can’t always be there for your friends. We all have our own life challenges and if you are currently struggling with your mental health, anxiety or a huge workload – it’s completely understandable that you cannot be drained by those of a friend as well. However, “don’t simply ignore them,” she says.

Be attentive

“Alert a family member or college lecturer to take up the issue.  Contact professional organisations to assist such as Lifeline (011715 2000)  or SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group) on 0800 567 567 (Suicide Crisis Line) or 011 234 4837 (Mental Health Line).”

“Look for warning signs and report on them if you feel things are out of the ordinary”. These include:

Withdrawal, depression, tearfulness, no appetite. Reliance on alcohol or even caffeine drinks to get through the day. Friend not taking calls, not responding to messages, missing class/assessments or exams. Mentioning keywords that include self-harm, failure or fear of disappointing parents, etc.

“While suicide is often a taboo subject, we need to bring it into the open to help heal those in need.  Being aware of warning signs can help us take the necessary action wherever we can.

Remember, you need support during this difficult time too.  Do your best by providing the necessary support, by being there,  and referring to professional help when you feel that’s the best option,” concludes Nonhlanhla.