Distinguished Heath Experts unhappy with ‘Media Coverage’ on Covid-19 Pandemic

NEW DELHI: The Director of NIMHANS, Dr. BN Gangadhar along with other distinguished mental health experts urge media to avoid “panic-inducing coverage” through an open letter. They also criticised the media coverage of Covid-19 deaths from crematoriums and creating frenzy and panic among the people across.

“As mental health professionals, we can tell you that specific information empowers people and prepares them to face any challenge. But panic weakens them”.

In the letter, the experts have expressed concerns over the arising mental health problems in the country due to the negative reporting of media, as it is creating the pessimism amongst the section of the society around the clock.

This letter was signed by Dr. BN Gangadhar, Director of NIMHANS, along with Pratima Murthy (H.O.D. of Psychiatry, NIMHANS), Gautam Sinha (President, Indian Psychiatric Society), and Rajesh Sagar (Professor of Psychiatry, AIIMS Delhi)

They have mentioned “Mass media has the power to communicate to millions at the same time. When the reach is so huge, every word, every image, and every nuance matters. However, what we are seeing on our TV screens, mobile screens and newspapers is disconcerting, to put it very mildly.” the letter reads, establishing the responsibility of the mainstream media.

“Images of bodies burning in cremation grounds, relatives of the deceased wailing inconsolably, emotional outbursts, and hysterical reporters with cameramen swarming over the bereaved who are going through deeply emotional moments – this may help garner eyeballs. But there is a steep price to be paid for such coverage.” the letter says.

“Imagine someone has just tested positive for COVID-19. If they have witnessed the panic-inducing coverage from cremation grounds, it keeps weighing on their minds and their loved ones. The fact that a huge number of people who are infected by COVID-19 recover becomes immaterial. Only images and emotions stay with them.”

“Yet again, we are not saying that the facts should not be reported. We are saying that hysteria and panic-inducing coverage should be avoided,”.

The letter concludes by reminding the media of its responsibilities of sharing authentic information and allaying fears. The letter requests restraint on part of the media in the public interest.