Two students from Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) – a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university – have been selected to be student scholars of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism Program.
They will travel to The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to join established journalists from around the world for a series of workshops and presentations, which will be overseen by Mrs. Rosalynn Carter, former first lady of the United States.
During their visit to The Carter Center, the students will also be guests at a special event where they will have the opportunity to put questions to former President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Carter.
The mental health journalism program was launched in 1996 to provide training and support to professional journalists writing about mental health. In 2018, and as part of an ongoing partnership, the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) – an initiative of QF – worked with The Carter Center to develop a new track within the main program designed to train students at universities in Qatar on how to report ethically and accurately on topics related to mental health and mental illness, in preparation for their professional careers.
The two selected NU-Q journalism students, Maryam Al Badr and Muhammad Saad Ejaz, will follow in the footsteps of the inaugural 2018 cohort, Ayilah Chaudhary (NU-Q) and Asma Al Jehani (Georgetown University in Qatar – another QF partner university).
Following the meeting in Atlanta, which runs from September 16 – 18, the students will be expected to undertake journalism projects throughout the academic year that shine a spotlight on mental health. The students will work closely with their professors and professional journalists in both the US and Qatar, in order to gain the skills and knowledge that will enable them to produce balanced and accurate reports on mental health issues, in their areas of interest.
Specifically, Maryam plans to focus on the mental health challenges of women in the region, balancing cultural expectations, tradition, and modernization, while Saad intends to examine the mental health implications of growing up in a conflict zone.
Nick Bradshaw, Director of Partnerships and Outreach at WISH, said: “WISH’s partnership with The Carter Center underscores both organizations’ longstanding commitment to raising awareness of issues around mental health. The student program we’ve developed together provides participants with an opportunity to fast-track their understanding of the importance of sensitive and accurate reporting around mental health. Our fervent hope is that the students are encouraged to become valuable media advocates for people dealing with mental health issues once they embark on their professional careers.”
Mary Dedinsky, Director of the Journalism Program at NUQ, said: “This is a huge honor for our two students, who have worked hard on writing about health and mental health issues, and who recognize the power of the media to shed light on the subject and to help people dealing with sensitive and difficult mental health issues. Their knowledge and their efforts will be reinforced and enhanced with this great opportunity” Kari Cobham, Senior Associate Director of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism and Media at The Carter Center, said: “We are excited to work with the student scholars on their mental health projects and hope they will pave the way for future reporting on such an important topic. Their training and work will have a huge impact on their careers as well as on their communities.”