Charity warns of deteriorating mental health among media workers over Gaza war

The ongoing war and horrific scenes of death and destruction in Gaza is affecting many people’s mental health and wellbeing. But what about those in the media; what psychological toll is it taking on them?

That’s what The Film and TV Charity wanted to find out from its survey of Arab, Muslim, and Jewish workers in the UK media industry. 

Based on 400 responses collected in December 2023 and January 2024, the report sheds light on the detrimental impact of the war on the vast majority of participants, with few feeling supported by their employers.

In most of the answers, Muslim and Arab respondents felt worse than their Jewish counterparts. 

An overwhelming 94% of respondents experienced deterioration in their mental health and wellbeing, with 38% of Muslim/Arab respondents feeling “severe deterioration” versus 26% of Jewish respondents. 

The report reveals a stark disparity when it comes to encountering negative reactions related to their community identity, with 40% of Arab/Muslim saying they frequently encounter negative reactions compared to 13% of Jewish respondents reporting similar experiences.

Other findings

  • 80% of Arab/Muslims believe the industry is structurally and/​or systemically discriminatory towards their community, compared with 33% of Jewish respondents.
  • 55% of Arab/Muslim respondents and 39% of Jewish respondents reported feeling unsupported by their employers.
  • 67% of Arab/Muslims believe that views and behaviours hostile to their community are common in the industry, while that figure was 51% for Jewish respondents. 
  • Only 13% of Arab/Muslims think that the Industry is safe and welcoming for them, compared to 27% of their Jewish compatriots.

The charity used the survey data to convene roundtable sessions with representatives from TV and film. 

A group said a common thread emerging from those discussions was the need to prioritise training and improve cultural literacy to combat a lack of understanding, disturbing levels of hostility, and a lack of safety being felt across all communities. 

The Film and TV Charity is now working with roundtable attendees and other partners to explore a response to the issues from the sessions and the survey data.

Although an in-depth exploration of editorial content fell outside the scope of the roundtables, there was an acknowledgement that editorial coverage can directly impact employees’ mental wellbeing. 

The charity believes there is a need for an independent review that scrutinises the news coverage of the war across all broadcasters and evaluates its toll on the mental health of staff members with personal stakes in the conflict. 

“The results of the survey, and the recommendations from both Jewish and Arab/Muslim community representatives are a stark indication of both the damage that has been done to the mental health of some colleagues following the events and aftermath of October 7th, and the isolation that communities across the industry are feeling,” Marcus Ryder, CEO of the Film and TV Charity, told Islam channel.

 “The Film and TV Charity has built a reputation for acting where evidence highlights issues that affect the mental, financial, or physical health of the Industry’s workforce and so we’re keenly aware of the need to act in response to sobering data coming from the survey, and the powerful qualitative evidence that was voiced in the roundtables, he added.

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