More than 22% of the 2500 matric pupils that sought counselling support on MXit were suicidal after receiving the results of their matric exams. 40% of these suicidal learners attributed their depression to being anxious and unsure about their future. This is according to Marlon Parker, who heads up mobile counselling on MXit through Rlabs (Reconstructed Living Labs).
“Our sessions with learners earlier this year confirmed that their main concerns are uncertainty over what to do after failing the examinations, being anxious about the future as well as over being too late to enrol into tertiary education,” says Parker.
A team of 27 trained Rlab volunteers were on high alert after the final matric results were published. On average, around 500 students were counselled on MXit per hour, for 6 hours every day.
Parker, who has already helped close on 110 000 youth on MXit, believes that if steps are put in place to provide matriculants with guidelines that help them prepare for life beyond school, we may go some way to address this situation.
“Information is key for learners and misinformation can often lead to unnecessary pain. There was a learner in Bloemfontein, for example, who committed suicide after receiving her results. Although she failed, she did receive a distinction and would have qualified to write supplementary examinations. This could perhaps have been avoided if more information and access to counselling was available.”
According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, 51% of South African youth between the ages 15 and 24 are unemployed, which is more than double the national unemployment rate of 25%. These figures and reports add to the anxiety that faces school leavers.
“What concerns us is that these events, which appear simple to an adult but which are monumental for teens, can lead to other social ills. A lot of unnecessary pain could be avoided if our learners were better prepared to cope with life after school before receiving the results of their final examinations,” says Parker.
MXit is committed to supporting the services of its counselling partners, especially when results are released. The mobile social network believes that it is imperative to prepare learners to deal with life issues, with how to handle the outcome of their results and dealing with a more alienated life after they have completed the formal schooling system.
Besides the live counselling support from Rlabs and Childline, who also counselled over 1350 youth over December and January alone, MXit has also introduced information for school leavers on its counselling portal, Angel. This includes information on tertiary institutions, bursaries available and jobs offered.
MXit, through its counselling partners Rlabs, Childline and Cell-Life, counsel more than 230 000 South African youth on issues as diverse as HIV/Aids, mental and physical abuse, drug and substance abuse, debt management as well as general counselling related to their well-being.