Industry leaders shared their inspiring personal stories at a special NCTJ online event about journalists’ safety on World Mental Health Day.
Nearly 200 journalists from all over the country tuned in to hear an expert panel discuss the threats journalists face doing their jobs and how it impacts their mental health.
The panellists were Kathryn Anastasi, deputy head of Talksport; Richard Duggan, Newsquest’s regional editor for the North West; Vicky Gayle, investigative journalist at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism; Lisa Bradley, course leader at the University of Sheffield; and Rachel Wood, content strategy and planning manager of Reuters Video and global co-ordinator and peer supporter of Reuters’ Peer Support Network.
They shared their experiences, answered questions from the audience, and offered practical guidance, such as maintaining boundaries from devices, not responding to online abuse and keeping perspective.
Kathryn spoke to the webinar about her cancer diagnosis. She said: “One of the silver linings of coming through that cancer journey and coming out the other side is…it gave me an amazing perspective.
“Today, on this day, the thing that is stressful about my job…it just isn’t going to be that important in five years’ time, in ten years’ time. What’s important is my health, is that I’m enjoying my life, that I’m with my family and my friends and support system.”
She added: “What I am doing now, where is it in the context of my life? Try to give yourselves those moments through boundaries, through space.”
Lisa used the metaphor about an oak tree and a birch tree: “You would think the oak tree is the symbol of resilience, with its sturdy trunk and strong roots, but actually it’s the birch tree that weathers the storm and still bounces back.
“…No matter how horrendous you feel in the moment, you won’t feel like that in 48 hours, a week, a month. And every time you experience something like this, that resilience muscle just gets stronger and stronger until you become a lot sturdier.”
The webinar is part of a series of events hosted by the NCTJ to mark World Mental Health Day (October 10).
The NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Academy, which offers development training to journalists at every stage of their careers, will host a one-hour ‘Safety and Resilience for Journalists’ lunch and learn on Friday (13 October) and a ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Newsroom’ virtual masterclass later this month.
The panel today was the third webinar held on this issue in 12 months – the first was held in November for industry professionals while a second was held for student journalists in January.
Laura Adams, head of the Journalism Skills Academy, said: “I’d like to thank our brilliant panellists, who have been really inspiring and I think we can all walk away from this session with some really thought-provoking tips for how we manage our careers.”