Media organisations are now joining their ‘frontline’ colleagues in the emergency services, military and the security industry to introduce peer support programmes for the detection and early treatment of those affected by traumatic incidents.
Organisational support for those working in the media who are exposed to potential trauma is becoming more commonplace – and the scientific evidence and research points clearly to the use of peer support such as the widely used Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) programme.
So why is this support necessary? In bringing us news from around the world, media personnel can and do encounter serious trauma, which can in turn lead to psychological health issues like anxiety, depression, or in some cases post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Whether reporting from a war zone, scene of a natural disaster, an incident as devastating as the recent German Wings plane crash, or interviewing victims and their families; reporters, camera operators and production crews can face potentially traumatic incidents on a daily basis. It is well-documented, for example, that up to a quarter of war reporters are likely to suffer with PTSD.
It’s not just those ‘in the field’ who are affected; their colleagues back in newsrooms who view the images, videos or sound clips sent back for broadcast are also at risk. Being exposed to highly unpleasant material day in and day out can alter people’s view of the world. No longer is it safe and fair; instead it can seem to be rotten, unpredictable and fear inducing.
Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) is a ‘NICE (the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)-compliant’ model of peer support that is supported by comprehensive research. March on Stress – led by one of the UK’s most eminent PTSD and occupational mental health experts, Professor Neil Greenberg, is the leading commercial provider of TRiM training. We already work with some of the leading media organisations in the UK, including the BBC and News UK, to provide TRiM training and we have worked with a number of others to provide them advice about how best to manage the effects of traumatic stress in the workplace.
TRiM originated within the UK military – with Professor Greenberg at the forefront of its development – after previously-used, reactive single session models of post incident intervention, such as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), were subject to scientific scrutiny and shown to not just lack effectiveness but also have the potential to do harm. The NICE guidelines specifically warn against the use of immediate post trauma counselling such as CISD.
Still widely used in the military, TRiM now has a place in an increasing number of civilian organisations who routinely place their people in harm’s way or ask them to work in harsh environments.
Professor Neil Greenberg explains: “We are seeing an increasing trend towards the use of peer support within trauma-exposed organisations including the media and the benefit of the TRiM model is that it is a proven, well-researched method which has been shown to benefit individuals and organisations alike.
“TRiM aims to identify those who are not coping after potentially traumatising events and ensure they are supported and, where required, signposted to professional sources of help. It is a proactive, resilient stance to the effects of potentially traumatic events.
“Through our work with the BBC, News UK and recently, CBS and Eurovision, March on Stress has found – perhaps as expected - that media personnel are extremely resilient. However, like other trauma-exposed individuals some media personnel do suffer high levels of distress and a proportion become psychologically unwell.
“While most people who experience traumatic events will not go on to develop formal mental health conditions such as PTSD, TRiM can provide an organisation with a credible and acceptable early intervention system which helps ensure staff are supported by colleagues and managers and where needed, signposted towards professional help. The use of TRiM can also be an important element of an organisation’s efforts to reduce the stigma that may be associated with mental health and help seeking.”
In December 2014, Professor Greenberg gave a presentation to the International News Safety Institute, where he spoke about the psychological aspects of what journalists may face in their day-to-day work. Please click here to listen to his presentation
If you work in media, and want to find out more about the TRiM model of peer support, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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