Poor mental health among media personnel impacts work, overall well-being

THE demanding nature of the media profession, which constantly subjects its practitioners to various forms of pressure, can weaken their mental health and negatively impact their overall well-being.

Long working hours, shifts that span day and night including public holidays, and often challenging conditions under harsh weather, demand that media personnel possess a resilient spirit and the wisdom to manage their emotions well. 

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Coordinator of Journalism and Publishing Courses, Khairun Nizam Mohammad Yusuff, emphasised that although media personnel appear resilient, they need emotional literacy, through regular courses, workshops, or briefings to learn effective conflict resolution. 

“Studies have shown that poor mental health among media personnel affects not only the quality of work but also physical health. They struggle to maintain objectivity in reporting, often completing tasks, merely for the sake of it, resulting in uninspired writing.

“In the United States, 90 percent of media personnel covering traumatic events such as natural disasters and involving violence suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” he told Bernama.

Khairun Nizam revealed that a study in Serbia revealed that a significant number of journalists suffer from emotional exhaustion at work, with many believing that the stress significantly contributes to other physical illnesses.

He proposed that in addition to addressing the challenges posed by the evolving media landscape in the era of globalisation, the mental health of media professionals should also be a crucial topic during the National Journalists’ Day (HAWANA) 2024 celebration, scheduled to be held in Kuching, Sarawak, from May 25 to 27.

TV3 broadcast journalist R. Kumaran agreed, stressing the importance of prioritising mental health, as any challenges faced by media personnel would also impact their family lives.

“This career is particularly demanding due to time constraints and irregular working hours. Support from partners and families is essential. If their mental health suffers, it can destabilise family relationships.

“Working around the clock also leads many media professionals to neglect their diet, eating just enough to stave off hunger and often at irregular times, resulting in declining health, which in turn affects their emotional well-being,” he explained.

Sinar Harian journalist Roshila Murni Rosli, who has reported on natural disasters, has been diagnosed with PTSD.

“I once covered a water surge disaster at Taman Rekreasi Titi Hayun in Yan, which resulted in fatalities a few years ago. Since then, I have never allowed my family to visit any waterfalls due to the persistent worry and trauma.

“I have also experienced feelings of anxiety, excessive worry, and overthinking, which led to a diagnosis of anxiety disorder in 2021. I hope the relevant authorities will pay more attention to the emotional well-being of media personnel,” she said.

HAWANA 2024, themed “Etika Teras Kewartawanan Mapan”, is the largest gathering of Malaysian journalists, and the highlight of the celebration will be officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on May 27.

It is organised by the Ministry of Communications in collaboration with the Sarawak state government, with the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) as the implementing agency.

Various programmes have been planned, including the Sarawak Media Conference 2024 and the “Jelajah HAWANA 2024 Bersama Siswa”, covering Sabah, Sarawak, and the Northern, Eastern, Southern, and Central zones, to be launched on May 24 by the Communications Minister, Fahmi Fadzil (picture).

May 29 has been designated as National Journalists’ Day to commemorate the first publication of the Utusan Melayu newspaper on that day in 1939. The celebration aims to recognise the contributions of media practitioners in shaping an informed society, fostering cooperation, and driving positive changes in the industry.— BERNAMA