The impact of online violence on journalists’ mental health
Online violence is often only considered a digital safety issue, but the impact of online abuse on journalists’ mental health has serious consequences for their lives, work and press freedom as a whole. This is particularly true for women and diverse journalists, who are disproportionately targeted by online attacks. Time and time again, women journalists told us that access to more mental health support was vital for combating the effects of online violence. The culture of silence around online violence and mental health has made it difficult for journalists to get long-term practical help.
When we created A Mental Health Guide for Journalists Facing Online Violence, we wanted to give journalists the tools to control a psychological emergency and recognize the symptoms of generalized anxiety, acute stress, PTSD and depression. The exercises in the guide help journalists assess the level of threat and psycho-emotional response they are having as a result of online abuse.
Online violence can be devastating for the mental, emotional and physical health of journalists. Oftentimes, the victims of online violence feel all areas of their lives are upended by an attack. The guide gives them the tools to be back in control. Women and nonbinary journalists are resilient, and with the right support, they can manage the situation and reclaim their lives.
News organizations are a key part of the solution to support freelancers and staff. A journalist being targeted needs to know they are not alone.
– Ana Zellhuber, Psychoanalyst and specialist in emergency psychology, author of “A Mental Health Guide for Journalists Facing Online Violence”
WHERE TO START
In our mental health guide, we provide journalists with user-friendly exercises they can use when they are subjected to online violence. Anti-stress techniques help us regain control of our brain by halting the production of adrenaline and allowing us to assess the situation calmly.
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Psychological emergency techniques
- Anxiety management techniques
- Acute stress management techniques
- Panic attack management techniques
- Insomnia management techniques
- Depression management techniques
- PTSD therapy
- The Coalition Against Online Violence offers psychosocial support resources
- IWMF’s Black Journalists Therapy Relief Fund provides assistance for Black journalists facing financial hardship who are unable to pay for the mental health support they need
- The Committee to Protect Journalists lists possible symptoms of trauma
- Poynter offers a free self-directed course on recognizing symptoms of trauma in yourself or your colleagues
- Bookmark a roundup by Journalist’s Resources on how trauma affects journalists’ mental health
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