A survey of 800 photojournalists by graduate student and veteran photojournalist Eric Reed indicates that news photographers often struggle with work-related traumatic stress — and that this problem is not adequately addressed by news organizations. Reed’s results also indicate that high stress levels are not confined to photographers in Iraq and other conflict zones.
“Over three quarters of respondents said they had never photographed in any major conflicts. This helps focus on the domestic photojournalist and traumatic stress building over time, and not just the obvious problems of stress and war,” Reed said.
Reed, whose work is part of a master’s thesis project at Brooks Institute of Photography, said he was surprised to find so many photographers — 60 percent of those surveyed — consider traumatic stress an under-addressed problem in the profession.
Reed also has been surprised by the attention his study has received.
“It seems to have taken on a life of its own,” he says. “These questions strike a nerve in the photojournalism community. I do feel I have taken a worthwhile subject to help our colleagues move forward with the issues of traumatic stress and health care in our industry.”
Reed believes the stigma associated with mental health in the workplace has lessened in recent years, but that the stigma does still exist — and in some cases discourages photojournalists from seeking treatment.
Reed also wants his survey to serve as a warning to photography students, who are typically not educated about traumatic stress as a possible pitfall of their chosen profession.
[tags]photojournalism, mental health, traumatic stress, war photography[/tags]