LONDON, ON, March 6, 2023 /CNW/ – Canadian freelancers at home or abroad can now apply for free, timely and confidential counselling when they have experienced mental health issues in response to an acute work stressor.
The Trauma Assistance Fund for Canadian Freelancers, launched today by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, aims to start filling a long-standing gap in resources for some of the most vulnerable journalists, including reporters, photographers and others who work in an increasingly troubled industry without access to employer benefits.
Forum president Cliff Lonsdale said: “Even journalists who have access to an Employee Assistance Program often find they don’t provide an adequate response to the growing threats and stresses journalists can face. We’re working with certain employers to help them improve their internal systems before, during and after traumatic assignments, but freelancers will mostly continue to fall through the cracks. When they experience mental health problems as a result of their work, they typically lack peer support and in the worst cases can feel exploited and expendable.”
To begin addressing this, the new fund will provide and pay for time-limited access to confidential counselling for freelancers within Canada and Canadian freelancers working abroad, including Ukraine and other conflict zones.
Successful applicants will be matched with appropriate counsellors, working in either French or English as required, by Dr. Anthony Feinstein, a psychiatrist with world-leading expertise in the mental health of journalists, whose initiative led to the creation of the program.
Dr. Feinstein, who is also a founding director of the Forum, said: “The invaluable work done by freelances is frequently unsupported. Making therapy available to those in need begins to address an overlooked pressing need.”
The Forum already makes hostile environment training bursaries available to freelancers to help keep them physically safer when covering domestic or foreign news stories, with financial support from some Canadian media organizations. Initial funding for the new Trauma Assistance Fund for Canadian Freelancers has been provided by KBF Canada Foundation, a charity based in Montreal.
Lonsdale said: “It’s great that we can extend support to freelancers into this area with KBF’s help and Dr. Feinstein’s expertise. It’s a program every media organization using freelancers should also be backing to whatever extent it can, because we all share some moral responsibility at least for freelancers’ safety and well-being. Everyone gains from third-party action to sustain and protect them.”
The Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma is a not-for-profit corporation and federally-registered charity promoting the safety and well-being of journalists, those they report about, and news consumers. Aspects of its work are supported by the Canadian Mental Health Commission, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (a potential source for journalists) courtesy of Canada Life, KBF Canada Foundation, CBC News, The Globe and Mail, Société Radio-Canada and Cision, which we thank for supporting this announcement.
SOURCE Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma
For further information: To apply for assistance go to www.journalismforum.ca.
Unifor has a website to help journalists – both members and non-members – respond to harassment. Find it here