Last month in Dubai, the Al Jalila Foundation, in partnership with The Carter Center, has announced two UAE recipients of the 2017-2018 Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism program.
Selected from a pool of highly competitive applicants, the two Emiratis join the 21st annual class and 200 journalists who have been awarded the fellowships to date from around the world. The program is the first mental health fellowship program for journalists in the Middle East, launched in 2016 in the UAE by Al Jalila Foundation with two journalism Fellows.
Dr Raja Easa Al Gurg, Chairperson of the Board of Directors and Member of the Board of Trustees of Al Jalila Foundation, said, “Journalists have immense power to inform, educate and influence society. Their support is essential to raise awareness and create a dialogue about mental health in the region. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that people with mental illness are not marginalised and that they receive the required support to live happy productive lives.”
Mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the world, yet sensationalized news coverage or under-reporting of these issues can perpetuate myths and misconceptions and discourage people from seeking effective treatment.
“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 US First Lady, Rosalynn Carter.
The Carter Center provides training, mentorship, evaluation tools, and technical assistance to Al Jalila Foundation to develop a sustainable and tailored program in the UAE. Al Jalila Foundation manages the program in the UAE and is responsible for the selection of journalists and adapting the program to meet the needs of the Emirates.
Dr Abdulkareem Al Olama, Chief Executive Officer of Al Jalila Foundation, said, “It is a huge privilege to partner with The Carter Center to continue the incredible work that former United States First Lady Rosalynn Carter has done to combat the stigma associated with mental illness. This is the second year that we have offered the mental health journalism program in the UAE and we look forward to working with the new fellows to initiate positive conversations on mental health to overcome the cycle of stigma.”
The UAE program is overseen by an Advisory Board which is chaired by Al Jalila Foundation and comprised of distinguished business professionals and experts in the field of mental health and journalism from a number of organizations including Emirates News Agency, WAM, Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, Al Ansari Exchange, Al Bayan newspaper, Zayed University and the UAE Federal Government.