The Ithemba Foundation


Newsletter September 2021


HOPEtober is here!


October is a very special month because it actually is … HOPEtober! October is South Africa’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and on 10 October it is the World Health Organisation’s Mental Health Day. That is why we at Ithemba – ‘ithemba’ means HOPE – start the month of HOPEtober with our annual Hope Hike and Hope Bike on Sunday, 3 October. It’s because we want all of us to walk the walk and talk the talk. By doing it right from the beginning of the month, we can break the silence and the stigma surrounding mental ill-health together. Especially with the fall-out of Covid-19, no one is left untouched. Burn-out, anxiety and depression are reaching alarmingly high levels in all communities. But we can each make a difference by humanising and normalising mental health.

Go to to enter for your 3, 5 or 10 km virtual walk or run, or the 25 km mountain bike event, and let’s all raise awareness of the importance of mental health. And oh! Not to forget: You stand the chance of winning one of ten Woolies vouchers to the value of R500. All you need to do is to enter, do your virtual thing, and post your selfie between 3 and 10 October on



Erns is Elders … running a marathon this time


HOPEtober also means it is time for the Cape Town Marathon and this time, Erns Grundling, well-known journalist and TV presenter of his Elders series, will be doing – yes, your eyes are not deceiving you – the FULL Cape Town Marathon on Sunday, 17 October, in aid of Ithemba. If you would like to show your support, you are welcome to make a donation to Erns’ effort by going to

You can also claim an Article 18A certificate for tax deduction, as Ithemba is registered with SARS as a public benefit organisation. So, if all goes well, Erns will tackle that distance of 42,2 km. May you have wings under your feet, Erns! And a HUGE thank you from Ithemba.



And other news: #Caring4OurCarers


If you go to Ithemba’s website at, you’ll notice some new additions. Besides the Hope Hike and Bike and #CS4D buttons, there’s a brand-new one: #Caring4OurCarers. This resources page developed through Ithemba’s #CS4D campaign and is the initiative of Dr Pieter Snyman of the Intercare group. It is clear that healthcare workers face an immense mental health burden. Under Covid-19, the severity has increased. Especially medical doctors face what is termed an “occupational hazard”: More doctors than any other profession die of suicide.

The fact that healthcare workers cannot show their suffering because they need to care for others, is a huge contributing factor. Hence, since Ithemba’s first #CS4D campaign we have promoted the concept of #Caring4OurCarers. If you, as a healthcare worker, need help, please access help in time. By doing so, you will also help to break the stigma and the silence through empowerment and access to help.

*If you would like your resource to be added, please contact with a description of your services and contact details.



Please watch out for our children


If adults think they are suffering from the fall-out of the global pandemic, our children are suffering even more. The latest research has just shown the shocking impact of Covid-19 on the education of all levels of learners; also that it will have lasting effects (see A study in the UK (see shows there is a “significant decline in children’s happiness” – even before the Covid pandemic struck. The study warned that children who are unhappy at the age of 14 are “significantly more likely” than their peers to show symptoms of mental ill-health at 17, or even to have self-harmed or tried to take their own life. An action plan to boost young people’s wellbeing was urged. The South African study has shown that between 50% and 75% of a typical school year’s learning was lost during 2020, and so far in 2021, at least 50%.

These are losses that will have a permanent impact on these learners and a severe detrimental impact on their – and South Africa’s – future. With regards to their mental health, enough safety nets need to be provided in schools and communities to secure early intervention and to stop mental ill-health from worsening. Children as young as four are being treated for symptoms of stress and anxiety. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) estimates that between 8 and 11% of children and teenagers suffer from some form of anxiety that affects their daily lives. Child Magazine discusses anxiety in children and gives tips and tools on how to cope with anxious children – read more at



Mental ill-health and air pollution


New research (see shows that a relatively small increase in exposure to nitrogen dioxide led to a 32% increase in mental health conditions that needed community-based treatment and an 18% increase in the risk of being admitted to hospital. The study, conducted in London, concluded that the findings could apply to most cities and that “cutting air pollution could benefit millions of people”.

Research has shown that small increases in air pollution are linked to significant rises in depression and anxiety. It has even linked dirty air to increased suicides and indicated that growing up in polluted places increases the risk of mental disorders.




ITHEMBA FOUNDATION - NPC 2012/171250/08 - PBO 930/048/019