Journalist’s Guide to Coping with Traumatic Events
Covering conflicts can be too traumatic even for the seasoned journalist. What is scary is that many journalists often don’t know or are unaware of the psychological impact of their exposure to traumatic events. Some are unwilling to admit that they are affected by traumatic events that they witnessed in their coverage. The impact can be great on journalists and news crews that are on the forefront. Newsrooms can also take a hit even if they are miles away from the supposed traumatic event. Journalists are people too and the stress of working long hours and exposure to gory events can definitely take its toll. Here are some guides to help journalists cope with trauma in their coverage.
Check the warning signs
If you have been re-experiencing the traumatic events in dreams, flashbacks and unwelcome recall of the event, it is likely that you are affected. Often journalists that are exposed to traumatic events try to suppress their emotions and try to stay away from discussing it. There is even an increased likelihood that the journalist would have increased heart rate, sweating and unexplained worry which are known to be associated with traumatic events. Checking the warning label could be a sign that the journalist may need to seek professional help in order to abate a potential case of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Seek some intervention
Most newsrooms would have a formal kind of debriefing done for their correspondents that have seen gory images while on assignment. This is helpful especially for journalists that have been aloof to consider talking about their experience as a form of protecting their image. Talking to someone can help any person that has been dealing with a traumatic situation and help lift the heavy load on his/her chest. Typically it is best to have an intervention as soon as the journalist is summoned back to the office.
Do some exercises
Exercise can help in lowering down the physical symptoms of anxiety and even to taper the potential of having post-traumatic stress disorder. There is a study that war correspondents have a higher PTSD lifetime rate compared to police officers. The rate is almost similar to soldiers that were involved in actual combat.
Stay away from alcohol
Often journalists that have been exposed to traumatic event seek solace from drinking alcohol or even venturing with substance abuse. For some, they justify the use of substances as an escape from reality and to forget the traumatic images they have seen on the field. This can have dire effects down the line. It is best to monitor the impacted newspersons to keep them away from this disastrous scenario.
The dreams are temporary
It is important that journalists affected learn that the dreams and flashbacks will vanish over time. If not, then it is time to seek medical advice for it. It is no longer healthy if the mind overpowers the will.
Journalists are never warned about the hazards of their jobs. It is important that journalists covering conflict areas know the value of keeping their heads clear. Stress is a normal part of the job and getting professional help should not be construed to be on their way to the loony bin.
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