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Psychological distress in Afghan journalists: a descriptive study

Jonas Osmann (Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, Toronto and the Department of Psychiatry, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada)
Abdul Mujeeb Khalvatgar (Nai Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan)
Anthony Feinstein (Department of Psychiatry, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research

ISSN: 1759-6599

Article publication date: 12 June 2020

Issue publication date: 10 July 2020

88

Abstract

Purpose

Afghanistan is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists. There are, however, no data on the mental health of Afghan journalists covering conflict in their country. The study aims to determine the degree to which Afghan journalists are exposed to traumatic events, their perceptions of organizational support, their rates of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, their utilization of mental health services and the effectiveness of the treatment received.

Design/methodology/approach

The entire study was undertaken in Dari (Farsi). Five major Afghan news organizations representing 104 journalists took part of whom 71 (68%) completed a simple eleven-point analog scale rating perceptions of organizational support. Symptoms of PTSD and depression were recorded with the Impact of Event Scale – Revised (IES-R) and the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), respectively. Behavioral comparisons were undertaken between those journalists who had and had not received mental health therapy.

Findings

The majority of journalists exceeded cutoff scores for PTSD and major depression and reported high rates for exposure to traumatic events. There were no significant differences in IES-R and CES-D scores between journalists who had and had not received mental health therapy. Most journalists did not view their employers as supportive.

Originality/value

To the best of authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to collect empirical data on the mental health of Afghan journalists. The results highlight the extreme stressors confronted by them, their correspondingly high levels of psychopathology and the relative ineffectiveness of mental health therapy given to a minority of those in distress. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Liza Hessari for her assistance with this study.Funding: The authors did not receive funding for this study.

Citation

Osmann, J., Khalvatgar, A.M. and Feinstein, A. (2020), "Psychological distress in Afghan journalists: a descriptive study", Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 115-123. https://doi.org/10.1108/JACPR-02-2020-0473

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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