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Fit Minds has made numerous contributions from its inception in 2019. From publications to conference proceedings and being featured in the 10th issue of Curiosity. Fit Minds continues to make strides in its impact and awareness of mental health issues among Wits students. Internally at Wits, Fit Minds is a rich source of data that continues to support the development and enhancement of the Wits Student Mental Wellness Strategy.

Evidence and results to-date

To-date we have documented the following: 

High mental Health Burden among WITS students

  • In line with the first objective of this project, we have sought to define the prevalence of depression and anxiety amongst undergraduate students at WITS. The prevalence of severe mental distress symptoms was 26.7% (95% CI: 23.3-30.4). GAD/PHQ consolidated to the PHQ-ADS to measure ‘mental distress’.

Mental health impacts on student success

  • Among first year undergraduates, depressive symptoms were found to predict progression delay, with the likelihood of a delay proportional to the severity of depression symptoms.
  1. Wagner F, Wagner RG, Kolanisi U, Makuapane LP, Masango M, Gómez-Olivé FX. The relationship between depression symptoms and academic performance among first-year undergraduate students at a South African university: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 2022 Nov 11;22(1):2067. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-14517-7. PMID: 36368962; PMCID: PMC9651123.

  2. Wagner, F., Wagner, RG., Makuapane, LP., Masango, M., Kolanisi, U. and Gómez-Olivé, FX. Mental distress, food insecurity and university student dropout during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020: Evidence from South Africa. Frontiers in Psychiatry 15 (1336538), 1-10. (2024).
  • Wagner RG, Wagner F, Gani S, Makuapane L, Benvenuti S, Lunsky A, September J, Crosley C, Masango M.  Depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation among first-year undergraduate students at a large South African University: A cross-sectional survey. (drafted)

  • Seedat S, Gani S, Mashego L, Sengwayo M, Ochayon J, Shephard A ,Vergie C,  Makuapane LP, Wagner FS, Wagner RG. Prevalence and determinants of suicidal ideation among South African Health Sciences students at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. (drafted)
Conference proceedings
  1. Lerato Makuapane. Resilience among 1st Year University Students with Depression and Anxiety – 2020. 8th South African National Resources Centre Conference. 2023
    Click here to view the conference presentation
  2. Fezile Mdluli & Mxolisi Masango. Understanding student wellbeing challenges before and during COVID-19. Siyaphumelela Virtual Conference, 2021. 
    Click here to view the conference presentation

  3. Wagner RG. Prevalence and determinants of suicidal ideation among undergraduate students in the Faculty of Health Sciences. School of Clinical Medicine Biennial Research Day. University of the Witwatersrand. Johannesburg, South Africa. 2021.

  4. Lerato Makuapane. What’s causing all the stress? A qualitative study among Wits University second-year undergraduate students in 2019. School of Public Health Research Day. 2019
    Click here to view the conference presentation
Other Contributions
Future Projects
  • Fit Minds will continue to explore associations between mental health and student success to further understand the mental health burden in this population.
  • Future plans include further engagement with key University stakeholders to ensure that this research continues to fully align and support the University’s work on a student success framework and student mental health policy.