Self-care refers to activities that help individuals look after their physical and mental wellbeing.
Due to the sometimes distressing nature of suicide reporting, media and communications professionals should adopt self-care activities to ensure they safeguard their health and wellbeing.
It is increasingly recognised, within Australia and internationally, that reporting on suicide and mental illness can have a profound effect on journalists.
Effects can range from temporary discomfort to more long-term distress. This can happen at any time, even to experienced journalists who have covered similar stories for many years and have not been affected in the past.
What does self-care look like?
Self-care is different for everyone. There is no specific time-frame or frequency for it to occur. Self-care is about allowing individuals the time to partake in activities that improve your mental and physical health and wellbeing.
It is important to understand that self-care isn’t designed to be an emergency stress relief plan but should be incorporated into everyday lives to maintain positive wellbeing.
Self-care tips for personal wellbeing
Manage stress in positive ways e.g. Meditation, exercise or music
Try to achieve a balance between your professional role and your personal life
Make time for activities you enjoy and that help you to relax. This doesn’t have to cost money but can be as simple as having a bath, going fishing or playing with pets
Ask for help
Recognise when you need help from others and ask for their support
Reporting on suicide and mental illness can be distressing for media and communications professionals, especially if they have previously been exposed to these issues. Journalists often witness graphic evidence of death, other people's distress, or are required to interview people who are bereaved or in shock from a sudden death.
It is important to be aware of the potentially distressing nature of this work and be prepared to speak to your managers, peers or reach out for professional support if required.
Mindframe in consultation with the Dart Centre Asia Pacific, has developed information and resources on the welfare of journalists when reporting on suicide, mental illness and other traumatic events.
Media organisations have a duty of care to their employees to ensure there are strategies in place to prepare, and support staff reporting or writing about suicide and mental illness.
Line managers have a vital role to play in modelling and encouraging self-care as well as providing direct support to staff and identifying staff who may require professional support.