Mental Health, Covid 19 and The Media : An interaction with Dr. Alok Sarin
The current wave of Covid19 across the country has impacted the media fraternity in more ways than one. As first responders to the crisis, journalists are exposed to the virus and reports compiled by the researchers at Institute of Perception Studies say that a total of 210 media persons have died due to Covid19 infection so far.
The second wave has been more lethal for the journalists as 143 died during April-May when the second wave was on its peak. Media persons are affected in three ways by the pandemic- Personal, Professional and Publicly. Personally, journalists are exposed to the virus as their work takes them to the hotspots like hospitals and cremation grounds where it is difficult Ito avoid crowds. In turn there is a higher chance of their families contacting the disease.
Many journalists have lost their family members which are not tabulated by the researchers. Professionally, journalists are exposed to a pandemic which all its depressing manifestations. They have seen the deaths and devastation sweeping across the land where even the dead are not cremated or buried with dignity.
This has had a serious impact on journalists. A global study by Reuters Foundation says that 70% of respondents suffer from psychological distress, 26 % had clinically significant anxiety compatible with the diagnoses of General Anxiety Disorder and 11% reported prominent symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Another global study by International Federation of Journalists across 125 countries underlined the immediate need for mental health for journalists given the high level of impact.
It concluded: "These figures highlight an urgent need for governments, media employers and journalists’ unions to offer mental health support to help alleviate burnout among journalists covering the pandemic or suffering the socioeconomic consequences of it. If journalists are not mentally and physically well, they cannot do good journalism."
To grapple with this urgent crisis, the Press Club of India invited senior psychiatrist and clinical mental health care expert Dr Alok Sarin to talk to the members on the subject of “Mental Health, Covid 19 and the Media”.
Go News founder Pankaj Pachauri conducted the discussion. Here are the excerpts: