Coverage of terrorism acts can give journalists mental stress

Pakistan Press Foundation

PESHAWAR: The journalists, who cover acts of terrorism, can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, say experts.

Addressing the launching ceremony of Competence and Trauma Centre for Journalists here on Monday, Irum Irshad, the chairperson of psychology department, University of Peshawar, said that it was revealed during a recent orientation session that journalists of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal areas were suffering from stress and trauma.

The centre has been set up by jointly by journalism and mass communication and psychology departments at University of Peshawar with the help of Deutsche Welle Academy to provide psychotherapy as well as improve the competence of the journalists working in war zone.

“Journalists should not feel stigmatised while contacting this centre for help,” said Ms Irshad. She said that there was huge increase in the number of acts of terrorism during the last 10 years. She added that the journalists, who witnessed such acts, often suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, which led to psychological diseases and even suicide.

Ms Irshad said that during a recent orientation session with the journalist of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, it was revealed that journalists were suffering from stress and trauma.

Dr Altafullah Khan, the chairman of journalism and mass communication department, said that they would try to create linkages with other universities to set up such centres in their areas to help journalists. “Khyber Pakhunkhwa, Fata and Balochistan are our priority but we would welcome linkages with any university interested to follow this model,” he said.

He said that the reports of those journalists, who were suffering from stress and trauma, could also the readers and viewers. There was dire need to help journalists in tackling those psychological problems, he added.

“I think first it would help some of the journalists to get psychotherapy treatment and I expect that it would relieve them of stress,” said Karin Schadler, the country manager of Deutsche Welle Academy in Pakistan. She added that the centre would also hold awareness sessions, which would help those journalists who were at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. They would be informed as to how they could avoid stress in a better way, she said.

Dr Shah Jehan Syed, former chairman of journalism and mass communication department, said that many journalists, who were once students of the University of Peshawar, would feel relaxed in sharing their stress to get help from the centre.

“In our society, usually those having fears and stress avoid sharing it with the family. However, a teacher can help in this regard,” he said.

A number of journalists, who attended the launching ceremony, felt that they had an option to get help of a professional at the centre regarding work-related stress and trauma.

Kohat University of Science and Technology Vice-chancellor Dr Nasir Jamal and Swat University Vice-chancellor Dr Jehanzeb Khan were chief guests.