The Trauma Assistance Fund for Canadian Freelancers was launched this week by the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, aiming to fill a gap in resources for freelance media workers experiencing work-related mental health issues.
“Even journalists who have access to an Employee Assistance Program often find they don’t provide an adequate response to the growing threats and stresses journalists can face,” said Forum President Cliff Londsale, in a release. “We’re working with certain employers to help them improve their internal systems before, during and after traumatic assignments, but freelancers will mostly continue to fall through the cracks. When they experience mental health problems as a result of their work, they typically lack peer support and in the worst cases can feel exploited and expendable.”
The new fund will pay for confidential counselling for freelancers within Canada, in addition to those working abroad in conflict zones like Ukraine.
Led by Dr. Anthony Feinstein, a psychiatrist specializing in the mental health of journalists and a founding director of the Forum, the fund will match successful applicants with appropriate counsellors, working in either French or English.
“The invaluable work done by freelancers is frequently unsupported. Making therapy available to those in need begins to address an overlooked pressing need,” said Feinstein.
Montreal-based charity, KBF Canada Foundation, is providing the initial round of funding for the new Trauma Assistance Fund.
The Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma is a not-for-profit promoting the safety and well-being of journalists, including making hostile environment training bursaries available to freelancers to help keep them physically safer when covering domestic or foreign news stories. It also hosts the Mindset Awards, recognizing reporting on mental health.
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