CAPS staffer, students discuss mental health awareness in journalism


Daniel Tian/The Daily Northwestern

Rosemary Magaña, a licensed clinical professional counselor and staff therapist at Counseling and Psychological Services, leads a discussion with Northwestern’s minority journalism groups about mental health in journalism. Magaña spoke about different types of illnesses caused by covering stressful or traumatic stories and healthy ways to cope.

Allyson Chiu, Reporter

A Counseling and Psychological Services representative led a presentation and discussion with about 20 members of Northwestern’s minority journalism associations about mental health awareness in journalism Tuesday evening in Fisk Hall.

Rosemary Magaña, a licensed clinical professional counselor and staff therapist at CAPS, worked with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association to create a program to educate journalism students about being aware of how covering traumatic events can affect their mental health. Magaña’s presentation highlighted different types of illnesses caused by stress or trauma and healthy ways to cope.

“In journalism, in that field and culture, there’s a history of not always having great insight into how their work may be affecting them and their mental health,” Magaña told The Daily.

During the presentation, Magaña cited data gathered from a psychology study about war journalists conducted by Anthony Feinstein. The study revealed that many reporters did not even realize they experienced trauma and were being psychologically affected by it.

“They themselves feel like ‘it didn’t happen to me’ and ‘this is just my job,’ so they don’t focus on how it could be affecting them overall listening to these very traumatic stories or being in dangerous situations,” said Magaña.

Carson Brown, NABJ treasurer and Medill sophomore, said in her experience, mental health in journalism is rarely talked about, which she said she thinks is worrisome.

“I don’t think that as Northwestern students and journalists in particular, considering the very competitive nature of being in Medill, (we) are very good at addressing mental health honestly and in healthy ways,” Brown told The Daily. “We talk about it, but it’s usually the butt of a joke, which is something I think is kind of concerning.”

Magaña’s presentation emphasized the importance of changing the way mental health is addressed the journalism field by engaging attendees in discussion about the topic.

“I heard a lot of really good things being said from other journalists,” Brown said. “Just knowing how that conversation is changing and becoming healthier made me feel really good.”

Magaña concluded her presentation by providing the students with available resources to help them de-stress and cope any mental health issues in a healthy way. Some of these include, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center podcasts and counseling services offered by NU. Magaña said she wanted students to “encourage self-care and support each other in self-care and making it a priority in their lives.”

Communication senior Jackie Marthouse, who oversees NAHJ’s public relations, coordinated the event.

Marthouse, a Daily staffer, said the presentation opened her eyes to the role one’s career can have on mental health.

“I didn’t realize how much this field could affect how I felt self-wise, like self-awareness and self-health,” Marthouse said.

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