Covid-19 has ravaged the world in unimaginable ways. Besides a death toll counted in millions, the aftermath is adversely felt globally on human well-being, with people experiencing feelings of grief, isolation, loss of income and fear. This triggers mental health conditions – or exacerbates existing ones – such as increased alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety.

These conditions are compounded in people with pre-existing mental, neurological or substance use disorders who are more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection and at higher risk of severe outcomes and even death. There is an increased demand for mental health services – and the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that the pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide.

Dr Jumoke Oladele is developing a Computerised Adaptive Test for evaluating students’ mental well-being post-Covid-19 while considering implications on stakeholders’ roles and policymaking. She is focusing her research on Sub-Saharan Africa in general and, in specific, on Nigeria and South Africa.

This contrasts with a 2020 WHO survey, which found that 89% of participating countries reported that mental health and psychosocial support is part of their national Covid-19 response plans. This is essential, as good mental health is fundamental to overall health and well-being. Evaluation research should be steered in this direction to complement these efforts and ensure the attainment of SDG goals to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all.

Dr Oladele is working on a Computerised Adaptive Test (CAT) program for off-site assessments of the well-being of students. The study adopts a multi-method design of the Utilisation-Focused Evaluation Research Model (UFER) and Design and Development Research (DDR). The UFER aspect of this study aims to meet the information needs of diverse stakeholders on well-being in Sub-Saharan Africa. In contrast, DDR aims to create new knowledge to validate the practicability of CAT assessment in Nigeria and South Africa. The sample is drawn purposively, focusing on undergraduates engaged in virtual learning. The instrument for the study is a multiple-choice test with items based on indices of well-being. The test is face and content validated by medical, sociology and educational psychological experts. A trial test has been done to determine the reliability of the test items.

The CAT program will be demonstrated to the appropriate Faculty members in the universities selected in Nigeria and South Africa for evaluation and final inputs.

Dr Oladele is using a transdisciplinary approach that would ensure collaboration between the relevant academic disciplines and organisations to proffer sustainable solutions to the mental health issue.

The findings of the study would lead to recommendations that would be implemented through the Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability and Quality (AAAQ) framework from the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for implementation of the right to mental health and well-being in Nigeria and South Africa as a model for other sub-Saharan African countries.

She is using a transdisciplinary approach that would ensure collaboration between the relevant academic disciplines and organisations to proffer sustainable solutions to the mental health issue, which the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded, as a common goal. This would aid the extension of scientific accomplishment and academic paradigms to ensure living life the ideal way. Constant project evaluation would be carried out to make necessary adjustments as needed.

Heidi Sonnekus | FAR-LeaF Program


The Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) is a fellowship programme, focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills, to address the complex, inter-linked challenges of health, well-being, and environmental risks in Africa.