Seven out of 10 journalists reporting on pandemic are suffering mental health issues, according to survey

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18th August 2020 11:01 - Media and PR

Seven out of 10 journalists reporting on pandemic are suffering mental health issues: A survey of journalists from news outlets around the globe has found that around 70% have reported experiencing mental health issues including anxiety and depression,

The survey, which was carried out in June by The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and the University of Toronto, found that more than a quarter (26%) of the reporters polled said they were experiencing 'clinically significant' anxiety, which, notes the survey, is in line with a diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder.

The early findings of the survey have been published so that organisations are able to offer journalists the support they need, according to an article on Reuter's website.

The research was led by Dr. Anthony Feinstein, a neuropsychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and Meera Selva, Director of the Journalist Fellowship Programme at Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.  The study builds on previous work conducted by Dr. Feinstein, looking at how journalists are affected by reporting on extreme events such as the 9/11 terror attacks and the Iraq war.

This most recent study on the effects of COVID-19 found that around 11% of journalists have suffered with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Findings revealed that while only 4% of the respondents polled were dedicated health journalists, almost three quarters (74%) said they are now reporting on issues to do with health linked to the outbreak. 

More than two-fifths (42%) of the respondents polled said they know of a journalist who has contracted COVID-19, however, just one in the sample of 73 who were surveyed said they had been taken ill by the disease. 

Six in 10 journalists (60%) said that since the pandemic they are working longer hours, while the same percentage said they had experienced more demand for stories due to the pandemic. 

The survey authors note the stresses of having to cover a 'new, complex beat', alongside a significant shift in working patterns may have contributed to the high levels of mental health issues reported. 

When asked about how supportive their organisation has been thus far, respondents on average gave their employer six out of 10 (where 10 was very supportive and 0, not supportive at all). When asked about how stressful they have found their work during the pandemic they also rated it six out of ten on average.

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