November 22, 2021 – An unprecedented survey of the mental health and well-being of journalists across Canada is being extended because of the flooding emergency in British Columbia. The Taking Care Survey – the most extensive study of its kind ever conducted in Canada – will be held open for at least two more weeks, to allow hard-pressed journalists covering the devastation to take part.
More than a thousand people have already completed the voluntary survey, in which anonymity is assured. It is accessed through https://www.journalismforum.ca/taking-care-survey.
The survey was due to close on November 30, but the extension moves that to December 14. The first-of-its-kind research project is led by Matthew Pearson, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University, and Dave Seglins, a veteran journalist and trainer with CBC News, in partnership with the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma.
“The devastating floods and state of emergency in British Columbia – which journalists are working around the clock to cover – only serves to underscore the importance of the survey,” Pearson said. “2021 has been a particularly gruelling year for journalists and media workers in B.C., who have grappled with two previous states of emergency and a toxic drug supply that has left more than 1,500 people dead.”
Journalists – many of them freelancers – have also been on the ground in the province’s northern interior, where members of the Wey’suwet’en Nation continue to oppose the development of a natural gas pipeline near Houston, he added.
Jonny Morris, CEO of the British Columbia division of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), said: “Journalists play a vital role in communications and public safety at times like these, and some will pay a heavy emotional price. In the midst of the critical work they’re doing now, many journalists haven’t been able to give the survey their attention, and we really want to hear from them. I applaud the decision to hold the survey open to gather as many responses as possible.” CMHA is the sponsor of a pair of Mindset and En-Tête awards offered by the Forum for excellence in reporting on the mental health of young people, debuting this year.
Support for the survey – open since November 1 – has been forthcoming from across the Canadian journalism spectrum.
Journalist and retired anchor Kevin Newman told the researchers: “Thank you for seeing a need long overdue for understanding and action. I really believe newsrooms have to develop stronger and unique caring systems for their staff. Thanks for tackling this.”
André Picard, The Globe and Mail’s health columnist, observed: “As journalists, our mental health has taken a beating in recent years – COVID-19, the Trump era, and more. We need to figure out what can be done.”
Nadine Yousif, mental health reporter for The Toronto Star, said: “Many of us have had a traumatizing assignment that has left a long-lasting impact on our mental health, but we just never had to tools to address it or even talk about it. The survey is a chance to change that.”
Justin Ling, a prominent freelance investigative reporter and author of Missing From The Village, added: “If we’re going to improve access to supports in our newsrooms and help prepare the journalists of tomorrow, we need to understand the scope of the problem.” That could only happen, he said, with extensive participation.
Michaël Nguyen, president of the Fédération professionelle des journalistes du Québec (FPJQ), encouraged francophone journalists to complete the survey. “As journalists, we are called upon to cover difficult and sometimes traumatic events, both for the victims and the responders – but also for ourselves. It can wear us out,” he said.
Mary Ann Baynton, Director of Collaboration and Strategy, Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (WSMH), added: “The survey findings can help us uncover areas where journalist are facing mental health struggles and then develop ways to prevent psychological harm and to promote safer work practices. The more journalists participate, the more advanced the findings and solutions.” WSMH sponsors the Forum’s annual Mindset and En-Tête awards for workplace mental health reporting.
The Taking Care Survey is available in both French and English at the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma’s website. The Forum is partnering with the researchers to support and promote the survey, which is also endorsed by the Canadian Association of Journalists and the FPJQ.
The Forum is a federal charity promoting the physical safety and mental well-being of journalists in Canada and abroad. Various aspects of its work are supported by The Globe and Mail, CBC News, Société Radio-Canada, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Canada Life and individual donors. We thank Cision for supporting this media release.
SOURCE Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma
For further information: about the Taking Care Survey, please email the research team at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Forum, please contact Jane Hawkes, Executive Producer: email@example.com, 1-519-852-4946.