As journalists continue to deal with the impact of the pandemic on their mental health, a new support community has launched to help them address stress.
Headlines Network will organise free workshops for journalists at different stages of their careers, from budding reporters to senior managers.
Journalism.co.uk asked founders Hannah Storm and John Crowley why they saw the need to create Headlines Network and how it will help the journalism community to get better.
Hannah Storm, founder and director:
"The past 18 months of the pandemic have really exacerbated the stresses on journalists. Many of our colleagues are finding things really difficult right now and sadly there are still barriers in place that mean they are struggling in silence.
"We have spent many years at the intersection of journalism, safety and mental health and we know the realities that our colleagues face, both those that are making it harder for them to do their jobs and those that are making it hard for them to speak.
"With Headlines, we want to help amplify the conversation around mental wellbeing in our industry and offer workshops where we can help journalists share their experiences and identify solutions that will help them cope better with the pressures they face and feel less isolated.
"We are not providing a replacement for therapy, and we are not mental health clinicians, we are empathetic individuals who know journalism and who know that good journalism needs a more realistic and inclusive understanding of what resilience means.
"We are delighted therefore to be offering these workshops to colleagues across the UK industry and really hope this is a step forward in tackling some of the taboos around mental health in the media.
"It is great to be able to partner with the Google News Initiative to make this happen and we are also happy to have a number of high-profile allies from across the industry supporting us in ensuring mental health is a priority within newsrooms and journalistic workspaces."
John Crowley, director:
"Journalists are also faced with a perfect storm that risks a mental health crisis: the stress of failing business models, online harassment, job insecurity, macho news environments, vicarious trauma, disinformation, relentless news cycles, and the pressure to be constantly connected.
"It is important then to kick-start a conversation around attitudes to journalist work. Being ‘stressed' is often seen as a badge of honour in a fast-paced, dynamic industry. We have found that journalists are generally loath to admit such a so-called weakness to bosses. Terms such as ’burnout’ are still loaded and make it hard to begin conversations around what is still a taboo subject in journalistic culture.
"Few feel able to admit they are struggling when support structures are patchy, invisible or non-existent. The pandemic has sped up industry change. But in the midst of a crisis lies an opportunity. Distributed working has brought to the fore soft skills such as empathy, collaboration and deep listening. We believe this offers the journalism industry the chance to finally focus on staff wellbeing.
In late 2021, we will be offering free interactive workshops to journalists from across the UK industry. These virtual sessions will be offered to four groups of journalists – early career, new managers, mid-career journalists and senior leadership.
"Each cohort will have four workshops, dealing with different issues relating to mental health and stress, taught in a way that is supportive by two people who know journalism."
The project is made possible with the partnership of the Google News Initiative. Reach PLC, the European Journalism Centre, the Freelance Journalism Assembly, The Society of Editors, Journalism.co.uk, and the Journalists’ Charity are allies of the Headlines Network initiative.
If you would like to register interest in the training courses, or to become an ally, email Headlines Network