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Start survey of mental disorders among journalists

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Chaudhry Ahsan Premee

Associated Press Service

 ISLAMABAD:JULY 25,2016-Today the Collaborative Research Project “Wellbeing Study of Pakistani Journalists” has started with a launching ceremony at the Press Club Islamabad. The project aims to investigate how many Pakistani media professionals face threats and potentially traumatic events, how these affect their psychological wellbeing, and which conditions may help them to alleviate the associated psychological distress. The study was set up in close collaboration between researchers from the Pakistan National Institute of Psychology, the University of Peshawar, and the Vrije University it Amsterdam.    Pakistani media professionals face a myriad of challenges. Many of these, such as threats and traumatic events that they cover, have received attention from publishers and media watchdogs. But there has been little consideration of the psychological effects of these challenges, such as feelings of distress, that may affect the professionals’ wellbeing and functioning. Journalists tend to overlook these feelings, said Suzanna Koster, who is affiliated with the Vrije Universiteit and a former Pakistan correspondent. “We journalists think that we are immune to psychological distress. We don’t ‘do’ emotions. We only cover them. And it is all about the story. But we are actually normal human beings.” Psychological problems may creep into a journalists’ life slowly, said Dr. Jamil Malik, Assistant Professor of National Institute of Psychology in Islamabad. “Media professionals work in risk situation on regular basis which may develop accumulated stress that they don’t notice themselves but it has its after effect in terms of psychological complications causing a deteriorated social and professional life”, he said.    At present, there is no reliable information on the situation of Pakistani media professionals yet, said Prof. Dr. Altaf Ullah Khan, head of the Journalism and Mass Communication department of the University of Peshawar and coordinator of the Competence and Trauma Centre for Journalists in Peshawar. “This study is going to figure out the important issues journalists are facing and it will help us to recognize how to handle those issues.” This survey study addresses the situation of all active Pakistani journalists, editors, anchors and camera women who collect, record or present stories or parts of stories, either in print or through media such as TV, radio or internet.   The findings of this study are expected to raise awareness about the situation of Pakistani media professionals in health care professionals, employers, and others responsible for their situation. They may also point to measures that employers or managers can take to improve their working conditions, which in turn may advance their psychological wellbeing. Prof. Dr. Anila Kamal, the director of the National Institute of Psychology, applauded the efforts. “It is a very good initiative that they have undertaken. So far there is no research on the journalist’s community, particularly not on psychological issues.”

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