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Counselling Centre expands its services

Date Released: Thu, 10 March 2011 11:29 +0200

As Rhodes moves steadily towards implementing and advancing a holistic wellness programme for the University, this is evidenced by a few key initiatives and developments. The latest of these is a move by the Counselling Centre to expand beyond merely serving students into making their services available to staff, albeit on a limited basis. 

A groundbreaking agreement between the Dean of Students and Human Resource Divisions has resulted in the Counselling Centre committing itself to offering educational programmes for staff during student “down time”, i.e. during certain student vacation periods. This initiative was in fact kick-started by a session on Stress Management that was offered to staff of the Residential Operations division in January before the students arrived.

At this stage, the call has gone out to Managers and Heads of Departments to make use of the offer, but any staff member can in fact approach the Counselling Centre if they think there is an interest group that can be served. The Counselling Centre staff members are willing to consider the needs of people who approach them from different Departments and design a programme to suit the group’s needs. In this way it will be more organic and “bottom-up” rather than prescriptive and “top-down”. However, it will be done on a first come – first served basis, as a limited amount of time is available to offer these workshops.

The sessions will generally be run in English, but the HR division has offered to make isiXhosa translation available. Issues that trouble staff and Departments (from dealing with conflict, substance abuse, lack of motivation, depression, building a stronger team etc) can be addressed in an open and constructive way, creating a better working environment for all.

Dr Colleen Vassiliou, Head of the Counselling Centre, said this is part of the reason for expanding their services. “For students to function optimally, staff needs to function optimally and receive the necessary support,” she added. It is also a win-win situation, as some of the Counselling Centre staff members have a keen interest in servicing the psycho-social needs of staff.

In terms of the bigger picture, this shift reflects a trend in the Higher Education sector, where a recent initiative has seen the creation of a National Health and Wellness Forum to assist universities in developing and setting up their Health and Wellness programmes.

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