THE World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) has partnered with Atlanta-based The Carter Center to develop and implement the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism (RCJF) in Qatar.
The prestigious global fellowship supports journalists who are committed to accurately reporting on mental health issues in their community, and to raising awareness and challenging stigma and discrimination. WISH will manage the programme in Qatar, selecting journalists to take part in the fellowship, facilitating media training and adapting the programme to meet the needs of local media. The Carter Center will provide the journalists with training in Atlanta, with educational materials, mentorship, evaluation tools and technical expertise, ensuring a sustainable and tailored programme for Qatar.
Egbert Schillings, CEO of WISH, said:”Under the guidance of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Qatar became one of the first nations in the region to create a national mental health strategy. At its core stands evidence-based research on the impact of mental health in the local community. It showed that stigma exists in Qatar and that shame and fear of stigmatisation often deters individuals and their families from acknowledging mental health issues, and seeking treatment and support, leading to unnecessary hospitalisation and prolonged illness.
Schillings continued: “The media was identified in the strategy as a key vehicle for combating negative views of mental illness, by helping to raise the profile of mental health in Qatar. Our mission at WISH is to support the national health agenda and we are delighted to be working with The Carter Center to help highlight mental health issues accurately in the media.”
The partnership underscores WISH’s longstanding commitment to raising awareness of issues around mental health and developing evidence-based research to address related policy challenges, such as dementia and autism. WISH’s involvement with The Carter Center was first discussed in March 2015, when former US President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter travelled to Doha to meet with WISH to explore areas of potential collaboration to achieve shared goals of advancing mental health policy.
In December of that same year, WISH hosted a policy briefing with local stakeholders at Weill-Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) to explore issues of mental health. Local media, medical professionals, allied healthcare workers, medical students and other stakeholders expressed a shared desire to work together to improve mental health reporting. Enhancing journalists’ abilities to cover mental health was identified as key to achieving this goal. The Carter Center subsequently invited WISH to select a number of journalists to take part in its fellowship.
Jason Carter, Chairman of the Carter Center’s Board of Trustees and grandson of former President Carter, said: “We are proud to give journalists in Qatar the opportunity to benefit from training and access to experts provided by the Rosalynn Carter Journalist Fellowship Program. This important partnership with WISH will equip qualified journalists with tools and best practices to increase the quality and quantity of reporting on mental health issues and ultimately reduce the stigma and discrimination against those with mental illnesses in Qatar.”
For nearly two decades, the centre has awarded one-year fellowships to 165 journalists, connecting them with resources and expertise to enhance their ability to cover mental health issues around the world. The programme is currently implemented in the United States, Colombia and the UAE and was previously in New Zealand, South Africa and Romania.
The journalists selected by WISH will begin their fellowships in September. They will share their experience and some of their work at WISH 2016, which will take place from November 29 to 30 in Qatar.