WikkiTimes’ Publisher, others Calls for Awareness on Journalists Mental Health

The need for media organizations across the country to accord premium on the safety and mental health of their journalists has again been re-emphasized, as state and non-state actors continue to oppressed journalists in the country.

Haruna Muhammed Salisu, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of WikkiTimes, a pro-North Digital Accountability, Data and Investigative Newspaper who made the call said it is high time media organizations and the journalists consider their mental health as they are constantly being exposed to horrifying experiences almost on daily basis.

Malam Haruna, one of the panelists at the Mental Health Workshop for Investigative Journalists organized by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, said as a living witness to oppression on journalists, there is urgent need for proper awareness on the journalists on tips to consider their mental health, saying the impact of the journalist’s trauma are most felt by their family, loved ones and their immediate colleagues at workplace.

“Many journalists are yet to understand how mental health affects you. I had terrible stories that unfolded when I was in detention. My mother is still in pain due to snowballing effects. My family members are also affected”.

“Your staff are also affected. I have to also confront them and them and you have continue to tell the people close to you that you are fighting a good course. The constant witch-hunt on investigative journalists in having toll on their productivity”, he said.

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According to him there is the need to for media organizations to form a formidable force that will champion the course of press freedom, so that journalists will carry out their duties without any form of fear or victimization by state and non-state actor.

Sharing her experiences, Kofoworola Belo-Osagie, Editor at the Conversation Africa, corroborated Mr. Haruna’s view on creating awareness on the mental health on the part of journalist.

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According to her, there the need for journalists to start takin stock of things they do, and if they are stressed, going for regular blood pressure check and having good sleep.

“I broke down before my family. I later realized that I was mentally stressed. It took almost 3-4 years to connect that stress took part of my health. I went one year to start thinking of what to do. Lack of sleep, family time, preparing for the family affect me”.

“You should start a personal journey, start taking stock of things you do. If you are stressed then start thinking of what to do. The stress of making up to the dateline, need for support from family. You need to check your blood pressure, diet and learn to sleep” advised Osagie.

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Other panelists who spoke such as the Deputy Editor, Eagle Online, Juliana Francis, Kemi Shonubi and Busola Ajibola emphasized the need to stand together in solidarity to protect the lives on those who cared for us as intimidation and harassment of journalists amount to their mental health.

For her part, Chinyereugo Onyekwere, a Clinical Psychologist with NEEM Foundation, enjoined journalists to prioritize taking care of their self and identify their stress and build a strong social support system that include adopting a healthy lifestyle and engaging in activities outside of work.   

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