Trauma training helps reporters deal with conflict’s aftermath

Tigray media practitioners in a stress relieving breathing exercise. Photographer: Meseret Kebede, EMWA

Many women journalists in Ethiopia’s Tigray region have faced the trauma of covering a devastating civil war. To help them heal and continue their vital work, Fojo recently supported the Ethiopian Womens’ Media Association in organising a training focused on mental health and trauma reporting.

The training provided a safe space for women journalists to discuss the impact of the conflict on their mental health.

“We are deeply affected by the war and its consequences,” said Berhan Tesfu, a participating journalist from Dimtse Woyane, an Ethiopian news-based television and radio network. “The psychological impacts of the conflict have not been easy. I have been reporting on rape survivors and internally displaced people without knowing I was also a victim of trauma. This training has given me a clear understanding of my mental health and its impact. It helps me know myself.”

Aiming to equip the 26 participating female journalists with the tools they need to manage stress and depression stemming from the aftermath of civil war, the training taught sessions on understanding trauma, trauma care, and trauma reporting. It also covered stress management techniques and self-care practices. The women were also taught practical relaxation techniques that they could incorporate into their daily lives

“I was disturbed by the horrific stories that I encountered during my work.” said Abreha Kassaye from Tigray Television. “During and after the conflict, we have been working without getting any psychological support. I didn’t have any knowledge on how to report stories in stressful situations.  If I had been given this kind of training before it would have helped me to manage my stress.”

The training session also provided a platform for the women journalists to connect not only around their shared experiences of the war but also to look into the future by discussing their professional development, fostering a sense of community and support. The training was part of a larger Sida and Danida-funded program in Ethiopia entitled “Media Reform in a Time of Change – Promoting Journalism and Democracy 2019-2024.” Read more about it here.

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