Public media organisations providing mental health services for staff

More public media organisations are offering mental health services and support for employees to address work-related psychological issues and improve the overall mental health and wellbeing of their workforces.

16 August 2022

Exhausted female worker office
Exhausted female worker sit at office desk take off glasses feel unwell having dizziness or blurry vision, tired woman employee suffer from migraine or headache unable to work. Credit: fizkes/

The mental pressures and burdens on staff at public media organisations are considerable. In the current climate, where public media organisations are facing increased financial pressures, staff are often expected to provide more high-quality content for less. Journalism is considered by many to be an increasingly dangerous profession, with worrying levels of online harassment, especially towards women journalists. It may come as no surprise that journalists are suffering from work-related stress, burnout, anxiety, trauma, and overall deteriorating mental health from high workloads and increased online and offline abuse.

It is pivotal that PSMs, as employers, provide staff with appropriate and accessible support to help identify and manage work-related psychological issues that may arise due to their occupation.

South Korea’s public media organisation, Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), acknowledged “that its employees may experience a range of negative emotional reactions and psychological injuries as a result of their duties and commitment to KBS.” As a result, the organisation recently launched a new counselling programme for employees, which aims to provide improved mental health care with “specialist occupational support”. It particularly aims to focus on staff that have developed “serious mental health problems” such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that requires professional help. Counselling will be offered either online or in-person, and each member of staff can access the service “up to five times either at KBS or other designated public health centers”. It is hoped that the programme will ultimately boost the mental health and wellbeing for those working for KBS.

Other public media organisations have implemented mental health initiatives for employees in recent years. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s second public broadcaster, Channel 4, increased its support for employees. They introduced company-wide meeting-free lunchtimes, wellbeing days, virtual social events and extra training around mindfulness and resilience, among myriad other initiatives. “Innovation is part of what Channel 4 is asked to do by Parliament as part of our remit. This isn’t just about our content and programmes, it’s also about the way we operate as a business, and how we treat our people,” wrote Channel 4’s Chief Executive, Alex Mahon.

There has been a wider phenomenon brought about largely by the pandemic, where employers have recognised an added responsibility to look after their staff and establish mentally healthy workplaces.

At a recent panel session that explored the varied threats facing journalism, hosted by PMA and CBC/Radio-Canada, employees from ABC (Australia), BBC and CBC/Radio-Canada shared insights on the employee support and reporting procedures that their public media organisations have implemented for when employees have been the target of abuse. Panellists agreed that the responsibility largely rested with managers, as employers, to ensure that workers have the support and people they can trust to talk to when needed.

Meanwhile, recent tragedies in New Zealand, such as the Christchurch Mosque shootings in March 2019, the Whakaari (White Island volcano) eruption in December 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic, have also led Radio New Zealand to “placing greater emphasis on individual wellbeing.” From 2020, RNZ introduced online mindfulness resources and a refresh on policies and procedures such as on flexible working.

Reacting to the impact that frontline journalism can have on mental health in the short term is one thing. But an ongoing, proactive awareness and long-term commitment to addressing and managing the increasing pressures on public media workers is an innovation in and of itself. It is in the best interest for both the employee and employer to have a workforce that is mentally resilient and supported so they can continue doing the important work they do – providing a vital public service for audiences and strengthening the health of democracies.

“Innovation is part of what Channel 4 is asked to do by Parliament as part of our remit. This isn’t just about our content and programmes, it’s also about the way we operate as a business, and how we treat our people” – Channel 4 Chief Executive, Alex Mahon.

Over to you...

Does your public media organisation have an innovation that you’d like to share?

Let us know by emailing us at