Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism Program Welcomes Middle Eastern Journalists

September 14, 2016

ATLANTA…For the first time, journalists from Middle Eastern countries will participate in the annual meeting of The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism Program held at The Carter Center each year. Fellows from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar join the 20th class of fellows in a journalism program which aims to reduce the stigma of those living with mental health conditions. Four journalists from Qatar and two from the UAE will participate in the three-day training along with a group of 10 incoming and nine outgoing fellows from the U.S. and Colombia gathered at the Center to receive training and guidance on mental health fellowship projects.

“These fellows can reshape how media in the Middle East covers one of the most significant, misunderstood public health problems. Like the fellows before them, they will likely impact their colleagues and newsrooms, and become the point person in their field on mental health issues,” said former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

Earlier this year, The Carter Center announced the partnership with Al Jalila Foundation to develop and implement a United Arab Emirates (UAE) Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism (RCJF), the first mental health fellowship program for journalists in the Middle East. The partnership with Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) global healthcare community initiative to develop and implement a Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism program in Qatar was announced in June 2016.

Over nearly two decades, the Center has awarded one-year fellowships to 181 journalists to connect them with resources and experts to enhance their ability to cover mental health issues around the world. The program is currently in the United States, Colombia, Qatar, and the UAE and was previously in New Zealand, South Africa, and Romania.

Dr. Abdulkareem Al Olama, chief executive officer of Al Jalila Foundation, said: “It is a huge privilege to launch the mental health journalism program for the first time in the region and continue the incredible work that former United States First Lady Rosalynn Carter has done to combat the stigma associated with mental illnesses.”

Egbert Schillings, chief executive officer of WISH, said: “Under the guidance of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Qatar is taking a proactive approach toward increasing support for those coping with mental health issues. Unfortunately, the stigmatization of mental health issues can often deter individuals from seeking treatment and support. Because media play a key role in combatting negative views of mental illnesses, we are delighted to be working with The Carter Center to help journalists report sensitively and accurately.”

The Carter Center will provide trainings, educational materials, mentorship, evaluation tools, and technical expertise to develop a sustainable and tailored program in both countries. Al Jalila Foundation and WISH will manage the program in each country and be responsible for the selection of journalists, facilitating media trainings, and adapting the program to meet the needs of the local journalists.

Since the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism were established in 1996, fellows have produced more than 1,500 stories, documentaries, books, and other works during and after their fellowship year. Their projects have garnered Emmy Awards, nominations for the Pulitzer Prize, and other awards.

After two days of intensive training and guidance from experts in mental health and journalism, the journalists from Qatar and the UAE and leaders of Al Jalila Foundation and WISH were recognized at a ceremony with Mrs. Carter. The recipients of the 2016-2017 fellowships, their media outlets, and fellowship topics are below:

UAE

Khalid Al-Ameri, Opinion Writer, The Gulf Times
UAE
Topic: Examine the topic of depression and its prevalence in Arab society in an attempt to establish a culture that is supportive and equipped with responsive and adequate treatment.

Amna Al-Haddad
Sports Pioneer from The Middle East, Journalist, and Motivational Speaker, Dubai
Topic: Encourage open discussion about mental illness in the UAE through anonymous support group meetings and a monthly newspaper column.

Qatar

Aney Mathew, Freelance Journalist, QF Telegraph, Qatar
Topic: Explore the difficulties faced by caregivers, and the need to provide them with a strong support system, whilst raising awareness amongst the public on Dementia.

Buthaina Mohammed Al-Janahi, Columnist, Al Arab, Qatar
Topic: Investigate the mental health consequences on working mothers, focusing on the effects of care work, or unpaid work, within state policy and its impact on work- family balance.

Tarek Bazley, Editor, Al Jazeera English Science and Technology, Qatar
Topic: Examine the plight of those with mental illness in some of the world’s poorest countries and the plight they face with stigma and discrimination. Special focus is placed on a growing number of community projects aiming to help them.

Kathy Hearn
TV Producer/Director/Journalist, The Cure – Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Topic: Explore the possible options available to refugees for matters pertaining to mental health issues with an emphasis on the affected individuals from the Middle East and Africa.

Information on the program and the 10 incoming fellows for the 2016-17 year may be found here.