School Connectedness Focus of PhD Research by UKZN Staff
UKZN Counsellor, Ms Kamila Rawatlal, has been awarded a PhD in Counselling Psychology by the College of Humanities.
Her study was inspired by the many people from diverse backgrounds and contexts she has met in her training and practice of Psychology. These people strived tirelessly to make the world a better place as well as contributing to ‘Social Sciences that make a difference’.
Rawatlal’s study, titled: “The Development, Implementation and Evaluation of Interventions to Build School Connectedness - A Pilot Study”, was motivated by escalating incidents of high risk behaviour and deviance in many South African schools and the need for intervention to enhance the mental health well-being of adolescent learners.
The study further illustrated the importance of engaging multiple system interventions in promoting mental health and provided insight into school functioning and strategies needed to improve the mental health and well-being of adolescents at the intrapersonal, interpersonal and community levels. The study has been referred to as having implications for informing policy for school development in the South African education landscape.
‘The journey of completing a PhD and working full-time was challenging but accompanied by personal rewards in terms of gaining knowledge and self-understanding that contributed to both my personal and professional development,’ said Rawatial.
She acknowledges her supervisor, Professor Inge Petersen for her support, patience, and influencing her interest in mental health promotion from as early as her undergraduate years.
The encouragement received from friends and colleagues in the Student Support Services section as well as from Ms Rawatlal’s family and friends, also provided her with invaluable support. Her advice to other PhD researchers: ‘If you start something…finish it…with all integrity, self-determination and belief in ability to make a difference.’