INSI urges media to consider impact of trauma on journalists' mental health

In light of the unremitting nature of some of the news stories of the past few months, the International News Safety Institute (INSI) is urging media organisations to recognise the effect that the continuous coverage of news with a traumatic content may be having on the mental well-being of journalists.

INSI is currently working with world-renowned psychiatrist Professor Anthony Feinstein who is an expert in the links between journalists’ mental health and the work they do. He has this advice:

  • Journalists must be given down time to connect with other aspects of their lives (family, friends, exercise, time for meals and not hasty, rushed fast food etc) all of which are protective in terms of their mental health; 
  • News organisations need to remind their staff that confidential access to counselling is there for them and easy to access.
  • Organisations and individuals must recognise that journalists are often first responders and that giving assistance to those traumatised, while understandable and laudable, can make the job even more challenging.

Next month, INSI will be releasing a report and research study into the psychological impact that covering the refugee crisis has had on journalists. This has been co-authored by Professor Feinstein and INSI Director Hannah Storm and will be published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

INSI works closely with its network of member news organisations to share time-sensitive and practical information to ensure journalists stay safe – physically, psychologically and digitally – in whatever field they are working. For more information about INSI, please visit our website:  

For more information on specific issues relating to the mental health of journalists, our friends at the Dart Center for Trauma and Journalism have excellent resources.

Photo by AFP