Blogging. A great way for organisations to break the stigma around mental illness and stress
Thursday 19 April 2018
One of my key goals as head of mental health and wellbeing strategy at Reuters has been to break down the stigma around mental illness. I want to create an environment where our journalists across the world feel comfortable talking with their managers about any stress or mental health issues they have.
To help chip away at this stigma, we’ve been running a series of blogs since mid-2017. Around 15 have been written and circulated internally, roughly half from myself and half from other Reuters journalists. In these blogs, senior colleagues have opened up about their struggles with Bipolar Disorder (Mike Georgy, our veteran Middle East correspondent) as well as depression and burnout. Another senior correspondent wrote about how she cannot function properly without a daily workout. Just recently, we ran a powerful blog by Marco Bello, a Venezuelan photographer, who used a series of his photographs to illustrate the sad decline of Venezuela and how that and his work has affected both himself and his family. In addition, Marco’s wife, Eva Marie Uzcátegui, wrote a beautiful companion piece that showed how she copes being the spouse of a Reuters journalist working in a hostile environment.
The response to these blogs has exceeded my expectations. Some of the correspondents have gotten scores of emails/messages thanking them for what they wrote. I believe these blogs are making it OK for our journalists to talk about mental health and stress more openly. I know some staff have felt their own experiences have been validated. They don’t feel alone anymore. The blogs have also been a way for some folks to talk about the treatment they’ve gotten for their mental illness or stress. And every journalist who has written a blog has found the experience therapeutic in some way.
There are a few guidelines of course. It’s expected most blogs will focus on the author’s personal experience, although occasionally someone with expertise on an issue might write about that topic. Recently one senior correspondent wrote about what she sees as the detrimental effects of excessive smartphone use. All blogs must also contain takeways that could benefit other Reuters staff. For example, strategies someone used to cope with their experience. ■