Picture credit: UNESCO.
MENTAL health is a serious safety issue afflicting journalists around the world especially in the South and yet it is: Less researched, less reported about and less addressed in many newsrooms.
In many societies, mental health is a taboo something not spoken about. Infact – many newsrooms do not have it on the agenda nor budget. In any case Journalism is percieved as a profession for the tough and Journalists must toughen up.
So, day after day, journalists go out there and must report on: complex, traumatic, difficult and distressing issues – like war, natural disasters, political violence, climate change and human suffering, the pandemic… Many times, they are exposed to the very dangers they are covering – death, disease infection, political persecution, jail, harrasmment and intimidation – the list is endless.
They do this while worrying about layoffs, low salaries and the looming demise of a troubled industry. They are often burnt out under the now unforgiving and insatiable demands of the 24/7 news cycle. Journalists are not safe from the physical and psycological impact of their work hazards. In fact according to a Reuters report (2020) many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorders – like depressions, anxiety, fatigue, insomina.
Research is not sufficient and is needed on the: Nature and scope of Mental health in global newsrooms – especially local contexts from the South; Individual challenges and copying mechanisms; how newsrooms are addressing the challenge and perhaps on the impacts of structural and existential challenges and shifts the industry is experiencing.
Multi-stakeholder research, collaboration and dialog – Including but not limited to Industry, civil soceity, academia/Journalism education, and others is vitalto help us understand and more importantly address the mental health issue as it is a serious safety problem.