The top two UKZN candidates from the Honours in Clinical Sociology programme, Ms Swazi Hlatshwayo and Mr Safwaan Barradeen, have graduated.
Hlatshwayo examined the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on acts of suicide among youth while Barradeen investigated the effects the April 2022 floods on university students in KwaZulu-Natal and how it impacted the learning process of these students and universities.
Hlatshwayo studied mental health issues. ‘It is one of the things our general community is unaware of, particularly people from rural areas,’ she said. ‘Suicide is a social predicament; however, people are not educated enough about factors that contribute to acts of suicide. The stereotype and stigma against seeking professional help is a major factor that makes people reluctant to ask for support.’
She noted that the incidence of mental illness was higher in low income and middle-income countries than in more wealthy states. ‘During the pandemic, poverty, unemployment, isolation and poor mental health increased drastically in South Africa, particularly among the youth. The government tried to mitigate the jobless plight, without much success. Students and workers could not cope with doing things remotely, which increased their distress. Gender-Based Violence (GBV) grew during the pandemic and indirectly increased depression in young people.’
Key findings of Barradeen’s research into the April 2022 floods included that the student dropout rate increased because students were unable to attend class with many being without electricity or water supplies. Some students also suffered psychological problems.
Both students were grateful to their family, friends and supervisors Professor Mariam Seedat-Khan and Dr Jayanathan Govender.
They advised other students to work hard, manage their stress and never give up.
Hlatshwayo and Barradeen plan to complete their Master’s degrees in Clinical Sociology at UKZN.