Resources for PTSD & Mental Health
Most journalists face an inevitability in their careers: They must cover a tragedy and interview people who are pinned against a wall of grief. The wall blocks the victims from seeing that their lives may improve tomorrow. They only see who's in front of them and feel the pain of that moment.
Young journalists will often encounter violence among their first reporting experiences. The effects of catastrophe and cruelty are newsworthy, particularly when victims are numerous, are famous or are symbolic of something that we all relate to and hold dear: a child killed in a schoolroom; a nurse held hostage in a hospital.
Elana Newman, Ph.D., a University of Tulsa associate professor of psychology, and Barbara Monseu, a Denver investment consultant who as a school district official had coordinated responses to students, families and staff following the April 1999 Columbine High School shooting, went to New York City for the Dart Center in December 2002. For more than six months they directed Dart Center Ground Zero (DCGZ). Their goal: To link journalists affected by the attacks to emotional, technical and physical support resources.These three articles review the achievements of that project, which was funded by a grant from the Dart Foundation. They are drawn from the project report, written by Monseu and Newman, and from interviews with Newman.
I've always been a slightly nervous person. I laugh a lot and cry a lot, and I wear my heart on my sleeve. But, I have never had a problem. I got the occasional dizzy spell from being completely hyper, but nothing else; I just lived my life and it was fine.
In recent years, journalists have become more aware of the emotional aspects of the stories they cover, particularly in the aftermath of tragedy. Nowadays, says David Loyn, the BBC's developing world correspondent, "We get alongside people; we have sympathy with them; we empathise with them." A Frontline Club discussion.
In late 2006, Daniel Zwerdling reported for NPR on soldiers being punished, instead of treated, for having mental health problems. His groundbreaking reports led to investigation by the Senate, Pentagon and Government Accountability Office and widespread promises of reform.