Mental Health Prep: Commonwealth Scholarships

26 August 2021

The British Council commissioned Belle and Co. to design an important pre-award session for newly selected Commonwealth Scholarship holders, in preparation for their study journey overseas.

The day was opened by Meekness Lunga, British Council Programme Manager, followed by two opening keynote addresses by Adam Bye, Deputy High Commissioner, Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office as well as a congratulatory message by Ms. Kealeboga Letlhaku, Deputy Director: Scholarships Management, Department of Higher Education and Training.

13 Commonwealth Scholarships scholars were competitively selected from a pool of 200 applicants.

The pre-departure briefing included invited Commonwealth Scholar alumni and scholars together, on behalf of Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK to participate in a workshop session about “The Impact of Covid-19 on mental health and well-being”.

A number of alumni speakers were invited to share their stories of achievements, the impact of the award and sage advice on how to best prepare for this life changing milestone. The session’s discussions centred on a key aspect of preparation, namely mental health and wellbeing given the Covid-19 pandemic situation. The speakers included:

Alumni panelists: Siphiwo Ngeni; Jean Pelser; Mbali Pewa & Bronwyn Sheriff

The session harnessed the expertise of scholars with backgrounds in psychology and education, coupled with real life struggles of mental health. The space created, allowed for the current scholars to express their fears, share their own stories and ask questions openly. Jean Pelser shared an interesting pocket guide on how to manage mental health through 10 easy steps:

The session was rounded off with invited guest and Belle and Co. Associate, Mutsa Samuel, who spoke on becoming trauma-informed.

Belisa Rodrigues concluded the session with facilitated feedback and story telling from the floor. The feedback after the session called for more such spaces of vulnerability.

Belisa Rodrigues and Mutsa Samuel