‘Putting on your happy face’: journalists suffer from anxiety more than we let on

It’s a profession where stereotypes abound.

They may be outdated, living on only in TV dramas and novels.

But in the minds of most ‘civilians’, many of whom will also have long memories of the phone hacking scandal, journalists will always be brash, overconfident and in your face.

Some are.

But most aren’t.

And an awful lot would seriously struggle to summon up the sort of assertiveness and self-belief that is at the heart of our industry’s popular image.

Which is why it was so refreshing to see a reporter writing about her battle with anxiety today.

Daily Post journalist Amelia Shaw has opened up about the exhausting reality of living with an anxiety disorder.

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There are Amelias in a lot of newsrooms – as well as, I suspect, on every journalism course in the country.

That happy face which Amelia paints on every day – with the help of medication – is one worn by countless other journalists up and down the land.

Some of my friends are among them.

Theirs is a secret known only to their closest colleagues: to all intents and purposes they will appear to be fully functioning media professionals.

This is more than just self-doubt of the sort that some of our top writers regularly experience.

This is destructive, debilitating and damaging stuff.

That Amelia is able to meet it head-on – not just as a journalist, but also as a mum and a partner – is a huge credit to her, her family, her friends and her newsroom bosses.

 

I hope her story encourages more journalists to come forward with their own.

And that students whose journalistic aspirations appear threatened by anxiety disorders can look forward to a more optimistic future.

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