Landmark Survey of Mental Health and Well-being in Canadian Journalism launches with broad industry support

Press Release

LONDON, ON, Nov. 1, 2021 – Leaders in Canada’s journalism industry today launched an unprecedented online survey of mental health and well-being. The Taking Care Survey is seeking anonymous input from thousands of staff, freelance journalists and others involved in news and editorial work from coast to coast to coast.

The first-of-its-kind research project is led by Matthew Pearson, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University in Ottawa, and Dave Seglins, a veteran journalist and trainer with CBC News, in partnership with the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma. The research is also formally endorsed by numerous industry groups including the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) and the Fédération professionelle des journalistes du Québec (FPJQ).

“We need a broad picture of the state of mental health, well-being and support for journalists wherever they are in the country or abroad” said Dave Seglins, who added the survey will collect responses through the month of November.

“We haven’t heard from anyone who thinks this is a bad idea,” Seglins said. “In addition to the professional associations, we’ve got unions, news organizations, representatives of various associations from a whole diversity of perspectives, who want to see this data. That’s been enheartening because it tells me there is a recognized need.”

Pearson, whose work at Carleton focuses on researching and leading workshops on trauma-informed journalism, agrees.

“It is natural to be affected by the work we do. And there are times when the work we do can be very overwhelming and have a tremendous effect on our mental health and well-being,” said Pearson.

“A lot of people have come into this industry feeling that to be affected by your story was somehow not to be neutral, or not to be objective. As conversations about objectivity are changing, so too is the conversation about how the work we do impacts us. We are all human.”

There is growing awareness that journalism is a high-risk, frontline industry that involves difficult work and tight deadlines. While exciting and rewarding, it routinely involves exposure to all kinds of stresses and traumatic events, from coverage of disasters and tragedy to the reckonings underway involving racism and the legacy of residential schools for Indigenous communities, not to mention the stresses of work under COVID-19.

There have been studies conducted in Scandinavia, Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S., but there’s never been a study conducted in Canada at this scale on journalists’ mental health and the effects of the work they do.

“It’s a great opportunity to fill in some blanks, ask some questions, and get anonymous input from thousands of journalists so that we can begin to have a better-informed conversation to make things better in our industry,” said Seglins, who has worked as a journalist for 25 years.

The survey design was guided by Dr. Anthony Feinstein of the University of Toronto, a world-leader in research into effects of trauma on journalists in conflict situations and a mental health advisor to several leading international media organizations. The Taking Care Survey is supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and approved by the research ethics board at Carleton University.

Reports based on the anonymous data will be published in 2022 to paint a picture of the current state of mental health and well-being of media workers in Canada, and to identify gaps in support available to Canadian media workers.

Fatima Syed, vice-president of the Canadian Association of Journalists calls the project timely and much needed.

“Whether reporting on the pandemic, racism, or climate change, doing journalism is becoming more emotionally taxing every day,” said Syed, a reporter with The Narwhal and host of The Backbench podcast. “I’ve seen journalists cry publicly and privately. I’ve heard reporters admit to feeling total despair and futility. To help, we need to first understand the extent of mental health struggles members of our industry are experiencing. That’s why this survey is so important.”

The Taking Care Survey is available in both French and English at the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma’s website.

The Forum is a federal charity promoting the physical safety and mental well-being of journalists in Canada and abroad. Various aspects of its work are supported by The Globe and Mail, CBC News, Société Radio-Canada, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Canada Life and individual donors. We thank Cision for supporting this media release.

SOURCE Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma

For further information: about the Taking Care Survey, please email the research team at [email protected] For more information about the Forum, please contact Jane Hawkes, Executive Producer: [email protected], 1-519-852-4946
Related Links


NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More