Stress and mental health during reporting of a pandemic (Part II)

Stress and mental health during reporting of a pandemic (Part II)

The Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) hosted the second in a series of Webinars – Media Salon – on ‘Stress & Mental Health Reporting in a Time of a Pandemic’ on May 03, 2020 at 3 pm. There were in all 21 participants consisting journalists representing both the print and digital industry and students of

The Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) hosted the second in a series of Webinars – Media Salon – on ‘Stress & Mental Health Reporting in a Time of a Pandemic’ on May 03, 2020 at 3 pm. There were in all 21 participants consisting journalists representing both the print and digital industry and students of the Sri Lanka College of Journalism (SLCJ) (Tamil stream). The speaker was Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Sivathas Sivasubramanium. Sri Lanka College of Journalism Tamil language Journalism Diploma Course lecturer Mr Nadaraja Manivanan was the moderator. The event was sponsored by IREX – USAID.

 

Dr Sivasubramanium in his presentation advised journalists and other participants on various matters concerning mental health, stress and coping mechanisms. Outlining what mental health is all about, he said it can be judged by two things: how one handles emotions and how one handles interpersonal relationships. Going further he said, it is about how emotions, relationships, thoughts and perceptions of oneself are handled. He says there must be a balance of love, play and work. This gives rise to a healthy mental state adding that looking at a person, one cannot guarantee that he/she is in good mental health simply because the person looks normal (smiling).

 

Moving on he explained what stress is all about. He said anything can create stress explaining that stress to one individual will not necessarily cause stress to another individual. Those with greater resources will be able to handle things without becoming stressed. Sometimes we handle things in a healthy way and sometimes in an unhealthy way.

 

Dr. Sivasubramanium said human beings have survived due to the skills they have for a large part of human history, which helped them survive among animals. Humans still have this kind of mental alert system. This can be easily triggered in journalists due to the nature of their occupation. Although it has helped humans survive for so long, this trait of panicking can be triggered unnecessarily in humans today.

 

‘Emotional intelligence is to first realize when one has emotions; second is to know how to control these emotions; third is that because an individual has to live with others, the individual has to grow empathy towards others and this comes from seeing things from others’ point of view. People need a social network; this can be developed through empathizing. The next thing is increasing the withstanding ability of a person with empathy growth and networking,’ he added.

 

Moving on he told journalists that it is important that they need to have, what is called, ‘stress inoculation training.’ He advised journalists to keep to the facts and not promote fear when writing stories and to make use of the ‘free time’ to do relaxing things like reading and cautioned against spending too much time in front of the Television.

 

Dr. Sivasubramanium concluded by advising journalists during this COVID-19 pandemic to follow the government’s instructions on how to stay safe.

 

/end-sukumar-May 19, 2020

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