“Mental Health of journalists is key to cope the crises in journalism.”
An Interview with psychologist Veronica De Filippis on factors of sane working environments by Melania Fantastico, Urtė Alksninytė and Goshe Nikolov.
In light of the challenges ahead, strong independent journalism is more important than ever before. We need resilience!
Resilience requires many things — stable business models, freedom of the press. These things are often talked about and definitely require more attention. But, what is not so often talked about is “mental health”.
Wars, natural disasters, accidents with human casualties, police brutality, are at the top of the list of stressful and traumatic events reported by media workers, but no less stressful is the reporting of personal human tragedies due to poverty, social marginalization, armed conflict, and the verbal threats and harassment that journalists suffer for their work. Journalists talk to murderers, criminals, pedophiles, rapists. They get into situations that other people avoid.
It is normal for media workers to be among the first to run on the place where something bad is happening and to report from the scene, while others are fleeing.
Good journalism is dependent on the persons who do it. And their mental health is key.
How to take care of their well-being, we considered in this article. Our goal is to spread awareness about the mental health situation among the journalistic community and to offer possible solutions for them to go through the traumatic and stressful experiences during reporting in crisis.
As psychologist Veronica De Filippis says, some examples of symptoms present in the majority of the population are:
- Physical symptoms: abdominal bloating, difficulty resting and insomnia, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, anxiety;
- Behavioral symptoms: constant worry, need for smoking and alcohol to relax, memory and concentration difficulties
“We have to consider that the level of stress changes according to the person since it depends on the sensitivity of each of us. Some events and situations can affect a person more than others. However, in general, it must be considered that being constantly in traumatic events can fuel negative feelings”.
What it means for a journalist, you can read here — Interview with Ognen Teofilovski, Macedonian photojournalist and in the interview with an italian journalist.
Unfortunately, mental health is still not addressed openly today due to a cultural stigma that is hard to wane.
To overcome some traumatic events in psychiatry, various techniques have come into vogue to help the patients to overcome some pains that have remained etched in their neuronal memory: eg EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
Read more about EMDR HERE
Mental health starts with you. You should be open to help either yourself or your co-workers. Stay in touch with you: you should be the one considering whether that’s enough. We think that every newsroom should have a safe space to address any issue and be able to receive help.
That’s about building the environment around journalists which helps them build resilience and reduce the psychological toll of their work. In that case, media professionals can stay healthy and be more productive and passionate about their work. They just need to be given the right tools and knowledge.
The first step is, of course, acknowledging mental health is an issue. Without it we won’t be able to cover it and come through.