Živković Samardžić Head of Media Litigation taking part in an initiative to provide psychosocial support to journalists

by ZS Law
Photo: Marko Risović

In late 2022, the OSCE Mission to Serbia set up a team consisting of four journalists and one psychologist, tasked with developing a pilot survey to provide factual insights into the degree of presence and sources of stress that journalists encounter in their everyday work, and to establish whether it and to what extent, influences the feeling of job burnout.

According to the analysis, available here, as many as 69.9% of surveyed journalists feel the consequences of reporting about traumatic events. Almost a fifth of surveyed journalists (19.4%) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This percentage exceeds almost 20 times the distribution of this disturbance among the general population which equals around 1%. At the same time, a third of respondents experience a very high level of stress (32.3%) manifested as tension, irritability, sleep problems, and similar. As many as 62.8% of respondents stated they needed help from a psychologist or psychiatrist, but they did not seek it because they did not have money or time to deal with it.

Amongst the recommendations made in the analysis, there was a suggestion to create a network of experts that would be available for talks, in urgent situations and for therapy cycles. Additionally, since the Hemofarm Foundation has launched a lifeline SOS hotline and a network of professionals to help against depression, the Analysis recommended linking the Association of Independent Electronic Media’s (ANEM) 24-7 SOS hotline for reporting threats with the Hemofarm Foundation’s SOS network of psychologists and psychiatrists, so that journalists receive immediate access to help and more permanent support.

Within this framework, ANEM and the Hemofarm Foundation, with the support of the OSCE Mission to Serbia, have organized a meeting of psychologists and psychiatrists from Hemofarm Foundation’s SOS line to fight depression with journalists and lawyers from ANEM’s 24-7 SOS hotline for reporting threats to journalists.

Kruna Savović, Živković Samardžić Technology, Media and Telecommunications Partner and a Head of Media Litigation, as one of the operators of ANEM’s 24-7 SOS hotline, was present at the event and spoke on the significance of cooperation of two SOS hotlines and how psychosocial support to journalists can also help in protecting their safety.

The event also included training held by trainers from the Center for Emotional Support and Prevention of Suicide SRCE, on techniques and tools available for providing emotional support to persons in crisis.

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