Not enough attention has been paid to staff at South Africa’s universities when it comes to their mental health. However, in examining this phenomenon and finding possible solutions, it is imperative to do so in the context of the broader challenges currently facing the country.

This was the message from Dr Keamogetse Morwe (left), a lecturer in the Department of Gender and Youth Studies at the University of Venda (Univen). She was addressing delegates at the recent Higher Education Leadership and Management (HELM) Engage webinar, which focused on mental health at South Africa’s universities.

She said 50% of South Africans live in abject poverty while unemployment continues to soar. For example, between February and April 2020, 2.5 million people lost their jobs. South African also had the highest Gini coefficient (a gauge of income or wealth inequality within a nation) in the world, making it the most unequal society. Dr Morwe said the CoVID-19 pandemic had only deepened this crisis.