N.U.S. sets up program to address mental health

A praise and worship program has been set up at the National University of Samoa [NUS] to cater for staff to assist them resolve mental health issues.

The NUS President and Vice Chancellor, Professor Alec Ekeroma, said the establishment of the program was due to staff feedback requesting counsellors who will address mental health issues.

"With the COVID-19 and all the stress in life, we felt that the students counselling service was not enough really to address the issue of the staff’s mental health, and so I thought of how we could address this without costing us any money," Professor Ekeroma said in an interview.

The Vice Chancellor said he thought of engaging with the National Council of Churches, through his contact with the N.C.C Secretary, Rev. Ma'auga Motu. 

"So I talked to the secretary, Ma’auga and he agreed and so therefore every Wednesday at 12 afternoons at the fale samoa is the church service," he added.

The initiative will strive to address the mental health and spiritual health of staff, however, students are also welcomed to join.

"There’s an increasing number of people attending, including students as well," Professor Ekeroma emphasised. 

"It’s actually a worthwhile exercise, it’s a fantastic initiative."

The pastors selected to lead the program at the N.U.S. campus every Wednesday are selected by the N.C.C with the Vice Chancellor saying there is a positive influence as one of the speakers spoke on forgiveness and the message actually came through. 

The program will recommence next year due to the upcoming exams as well as the end of another academic year. 

The N.U.S. staff can decide whether they want to participate in the program. 

However, Professor Ekeroma emphasised that he wanted to let them know there are spiritual counselors available to them. 

"We do not have clinical psychologists, I’ve been told," said the Vice Chancellor. 

"I have asked the hospital whether they can give us a psychiatrist or psychologist to assist but there is no one available.

"The message is important and there’s a lot of key principles and values that come through and it forms the professional development of staff and students."

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