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Preventing a Media Mental Health Crisis

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many journalists were burned out or on the brink. As the crisis both intensifies pressure on newsrooms and upends decades-old journalistic practices, the risks to their mental health are mounting.

LONDON – Nothing highlights the importance of reliable news quite like a crisis. And yet, as the COVID-19 pandemic puts journalists under intensifying pressure to deliver that news, it is also upending their industry and transforming their working conditions. The stress this is placing on their mental health should not be underestimated.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, many journalists were burned out or on the brink. The cycle of breaking news was relentless, income from advertising revenues was falling, newsroom budgets were strained, and public trust in media was declining.

The pandemic has compounded these challenges, while generating even more uncertainty. Most journalists are now working from home, unable to meet with colleagues, contacts, or subjects. Some are overwhelmed with responsibilities, as they attempt to deliver timely – and potentially life-saving – information about a fast-changing crisis. Many have lost their jobs.