Karachi: The Centre for Excellence in Journalism at the Institute of Business Administration (CEJ-IBA) launched a free mental health counselling service for journalists at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Wednesday. The Well-Being Center, a collaboration between the CEJ and the Deutsche Welle Akademie, was launched with a panel discussion on ‘Learning to cope with the long-term effect of covering recurrent trauma as a journalist in Pakistan.
The panelists of the session were clinical psychologist Dr. Asha Bedar, senior psychiatrist Dr. Uzma Ambreen, Director Input, Geo News, Zahid Hussain, and President, KPC, Ahmed Khan Malik. The session was moderated by Editor Digital Properties Samaa TV, Mahim Maher.
Dr. Bedar shared some common issues facing journalists. “Mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem, are fairly common. Journalists show complete commitment to the profession even if the stress related to work is high. It’s important to develop coping skills to deal with issues every day,” she said.
Dr Ambreen spoke about how journalists can cope with stress. “Getting over-the-counter medicines are never good for health and they only heal you temporarily. Journalists can relax by spending time with their family and friends, or engage in hobbies, she said.
Mr. Zahid Hussain shared a journalist’s perspective and said, “Working in a newsroom is very stressful but that is how journalists learn the job. The editor will return your copy many times but this should not make you upset. Instead, you should take it in a positive manner. News should be treated as news and should not be taken personally or else it will affect your mental stability.”
Mr. Ahmed Khan Malik appreciated the fact that this forum allowed for the discussion of mental health amongst journalists. “Journalists don’t have proper platforms where they can share their problems,” he said. “Most journalists do not have a social life. Their working hours are not flexible as well so this not only affects journalists but their families suffer equally with them,” he added.
The Well-Being Centre, offering free mental health counselling with Dr Bedar, is located at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), main campus. The counselling sessions are held every Tuesday and Thursday, and a complete anonymity is assured for all participants. To set up an appointment, please visit cej.iba.edu.pk, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.