Journalists' Mental Health Is In Crisis. And That Matters For All Of Us

Alastair Campbell
·2-min read

We are both journalists, by training. We are both mental health campaigners.

One of us, in particular, after jumping the fence to politics, has had a lot to say about journalists and journalism over the years, not all good.

The other has spent years in journalism safety, knowing this is more than the elimination of physical risk. But today both of us are worried, for journalists.

We are talking mental health. And asking, whether media owners and editors are taking sufficient account of the mental health implications for their journalists in the current environment.

Politicians targeting the media as enemies, even while claiming to support free speech. Technological change leading to the need for ever more output prepared and produced by, all too often, ever fewer people. Fake news. Never-ending breaking news. Harassment and abuse, especially online, especially of women.

Add to this the huge financial uncertainty of the media, all too often chronic job insecurity, with the pandemic thrown in, and you have something of a cocktail for mental ill health.

Journalism at its best is about the pursuit of truth. Owners and editors need to face up to the truth that right now, a lot of people are pretending to cope when they aren't

Most journalists thrive under pressure. Hence their gravitation to an industry which rewards risk taking, rails against regular hours, is sociable to a fault. But it is an industry that seeks to shine a light in dark places and yet often fails to shine a light on itself.

We have both suffered severe mental distress related to our work. We have both had breakdowns as journalists. We have both survived with the support of family, friends and colleagues, and have gained skills which allow us to deal better with the bad days – of which there are still too many. Not least openness, and the insight that talking helps.

But we know there are others who are struggling, and who are silenced, and we are worried.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of...

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