Reuters appoints journalism mental health advocate
Reg Chua, executive editor of editorial operations at Reuters, sent out the following announcement on Tuesday:
Staff safety and wellbeing are critical topics for all of us and areas of great importance to our leadership team. In addition to weekly, sometimes daily, check-ins we have on various staff deployments around the world, we are extremely proud of the programs and resources we have put in place for both safety and security.
As you know, Mike Christie and his team are on continuous call, advising on security and tactical decisions related to assignments and areas of risk. Mike also oversees our Global Trauma Program – a 24/7 free, confidential hotline that can put callers in touch with counselors, which we established just over a decade ago for all staff journalists, freelancers, and their families. In September 2015 we also launched our Peer Network of Reuters volunteers trained to support editorial colleagues struggling with the challenges of work and life.
We are now increasing our efforts in the area of trauma and stress prevention and announcing the creation of a new role within the organization: Journalist Mental Health and Wellbeing Advocate. We’re pleased to share that Dean Yates, whom many of you know from his 20+ years with Reuters, will be taking on this position.
In addition to his various roles in top news for Asia and as reporter and bureau chief, Dean has managed multiple large teams in hostile environments. Some of you may also recall the special report filed by Dean last November, detailing his very personal struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from his experiences covering war and tragedy in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. As Dean thought about his return to work at Reuters after a leave of absence, it was not as a journalist, but as an advocate – a role where he hopes to help change newsroom culture and the stigma around seeking help. As we and others discussed it further, it became clear that this was a natural next step both for our goals as an organization, and for Dean, considering his personal experiences.
In this newly created position, Dean will report to Reg Chua and work closely with Mike Christie and the Human Resources team. He will help support existing programs, such as our Global Trauma Program with CiC and the Peer Network. He will also explore new opportunities and enhancements around resilience and prevention. Largely, Dean will focus on increasing overall awareness among managers and staff, sharing information on wellness and mental health, building up resources available on the Hub, and other manager training and wellbeing offerings, such as mindfulness and resilience training. Dean is also working with three award-winning Australian filmmakers to develop a documentary about PTSD and first responders. You can read more from Dean on some of his early thoughts in his blog post here.
Dean is not only a seasoned and experienced journalist, but is also highly respected by his peers. While he does not purport to be an expert in stress and trauma prevention, we believe he will be a dedicated advocate in bridging the gap between journalists who may be reticent about seeking help and the programs we have in place. And we hope he can help find ways to make our environment more open about engaging on this important topic.
In addition to Dean’s new role, Reuters will also introduce a new set of hostile environment training modules for all journalists and stringers, and will pilot mindfulness projects in each of our regions over the course of this year.
Please join us in welcoming Dean to his new role and visit the Global Trauma Program page on the Hub for additional information.