Health experts believe that the media can play a vital role in lowering the incidence of mental disorders in society if journalists were to promote responsible reporting on stories of violence.
In an awareness workshop on “Mind and Health” held on Saturday at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), health experts said psychological well-being is a key indicator associated with the productivity of society. They said the media has a big impact on society and care is required while reporting on suicides, terrorist attacks, crime and incidents of violence.
Speakers said improving lifestyles is very important in a competitive environment for journalists and everyone else. Health experts will be formulating guidelines along with the Press Council of Pakistan. These guidelines will address issues of stress management and time management for journalists. The event was organised for journalists.
In Pakistan, people are reluctant to talk about mental health as they consider it is for those who are mentally ill. However, it is basically about stress, fear, anxiety and depression and affects all of us, said a speaker.
Pims Chief Psychologist Dr Asima Khan said news reports shown on TV channels in which it is revealed that youngsters committed suicide for minor failures or because their parents could not fulfil their wishes influence viewers. “Vulnerable individuals with suicidal thoughts are more prone to imitation behavior and may commit copycat suicide after been influenced by such reports,” she said.
Head of Psychiatry department at Pims, Prof. Dr Rizwan Taj said the media must never glorify suicide cases. By highlighting people’s contributions and sharing success stories, the media can help to decrease stress levels and bring about a positive change.
“The message of hope is the best thing the media can give to the people in these testing times when they have to cope with terrorist attacks, inflation and a sense of insecurity,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2012.