Matric call centre flooded

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

The KwaZulu-Natal department of health's helpline set up to assist Grade 12 pupils cope with stress related to failing matric has been flooded with calls from pupils seeking advice and counselling.

The helpline is being run for the first time this year. Parents and pupils can call in for easy access to a psychologist during this difficult time.

Department of health spokesman Chris Maxon said the helpline was established after concerns that there had been an increase in attempted and successful suicides by pupils in the past. He said they also saw a need for the helpline in the light of the teachers' strike earlier this year.

Maxon said it was felt that the strike might have put pupils under a lot of pressure during exams.

Although statistics on how many calls were received have not been released, authorities say the centre has been flooded with calls from pupils and parents seeking advice.

The chief technical adviser for mental health policy in the province, Dr Laurel King, said statistics would only be released in about a week's time as they are waiting for the "matric results hype" to cool down.

"For some pupils the reality of failing has not sunk in yet," she said.

King said they had also received many calls from parents seeking advice after identifying strange behavior from their children after having not done well.

"It has been a few days since the release of results and we are expecting more calls in the next week or so," she said.

King added that the call centre would be stay open throughout the year.

By late yesterday police said there were no reported cases of pupils who had committed suicide since the matric results were released on Friday.