The UAE programme of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism is accepting applications for its 2020-21 intake of two journalists.
The programme is a year-long non-residential fellowship, beginning in September 2020, which aims to develop a diverse cohort of reporters, editors, producers and writers who can effectively report on behavioural health and increase the quality of mental health reporting in the international media.
The broader intention of this international programme is for journalists to help shed further light on mental health through accurate and fair reporting online and in print and to help break down the stigma that too often exists around discussions of behavioural health.
The Carter Centre, a US not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation, has awarded annual fellowships to more than 200 journalists around the world since the programme's inception in 1996.
Today it grants journalism fellowships in the United States, Latin America and the Middle East, including the UAE, where two fellows are appointed each year in a scheme overseen by The National.
Both UAE fellows for 2020-21 will be assisted by a local advisory board as well as by experts and mentors in the US.
The fellowship offers a cash grant to support the reporting work of the successful candidates.
The 2020-21 fellows will visit the Carter Centre in Atlanta in September, when they will discuss their intended reporting work with a community of journalists and mental health experts. They will also return to the US the following year to talk about their experiences and their published work.
Successful candidates benefit from funding to support their project, receive training to help improve their understanding of behavioural health issues and are able connect with an international network of mentors, advisers and journalists.
How to apply
Applicants should submit a copy of their CV together with a cover letter of no more than 600 words that outlines the mental health reporting project the candidate seeks to undertake during their fellowship year.
The proposed reporting project should be on an aspect of the mental health landscape in the UAE. The candidate's letter should discuss the significance and timeliness of the intended topic.
The applicant should provide details of where he/she intends to publish their work (ie, in which publications) and in what format (ie, digital, print, broadcast, multimedia).
This letter should also articulate the candidate’s interest in mental health reporting, although no prior experience in this field is required.
Any application should be supported by sample(s) of your work - no less than one, no more than three. These do not have to be previous samples of mental health reporting. Rather, they should be examples of the candidate's best work.
In addition, the applicant should supply a letter of recommendation from someone familiar with their work. That person, ideally an editor or publisher, should comment on the applicant's ability and potential as a journalist.
Are you eligible to apply for the UAE fellowship programme?
Applicants must be a resident, citizen or demonstrate a strong connection to the UAE.
Applicants should also have a keen interest in mental health reporting and have prior experience as a writer, reporter, editor or producer.
Applicants should also be available to attend expenses-paid training meetings in Atlanta at the Carter Centre in September 2020 and 2021 (ie, at the beginning and end of the fellowship year).
Meet the current fellows
The 2020-21 UAE fellows will succeed Omar Al Owais and Nick Webster, the 2019-20 cohort.
Omar Al Owais has previously supported Iman Ben Chaibah when she was a Rosalynn Carter Fellow in the UAE programme in 2017-18 and, as well as contributing to Sail magazine in Dubai, has served as a UAE youth ambassador to China.
Nick Webster has been on staff at The National since 2015 and is a second year Rosalynn Carter Fellow. He has reported on a wide range of mental health issues for the paper both locally and regionally, including the pressures social media places upon young people, cyberbullying and the need for better healthcare support for refugees in Lebanon.
Meet the local advisory board
In the UAE, Rosalynn Carter Fellows are supported by a local advisory board who provide advice and mentorship to the appointees. Members of the board include:
Dr Saliha Afridi is a clinical psychologist and founder and managing director of The LightHouse Arabia. Dr. Afridi moved from the US to the UAE in 2009 with a mission to improve the region's mental health. In 2011, she founded The LightHouse Arabia and since then the practice has grown into one of the region's largest mental health clinics. Dr Afridi is a frequent guest on radio shows and contributes her expertise regularly to print media.
Iman Ben Chaibah started Sail Magazine in Dubai a decade ago to document the social debates and discussions in the UAE and to represent the thought process of young Emiratis to the international reader. She then expanded Sail into book publishing and was recently appointed as the vice president of the Emirates Publishers Association. She was previously a Rosalynn Carter Fellow in 2017-18.
Leonard Stall is chairman of the communications agency Touchline and is active in the philanthropy and charity sectors. He was behind the launch of Philanthropy Age magazine, a grantee of the Gates Foundation. He also initiated work on an international code of practice for the charity sector, now being led by British Standards Institution. He is a consultant to the Norwegian Nobel Institute.
Dr Justin Thomas is an associate professor of psychology at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi and a chartered health psychologist with the British Psychological Society. He is a published author whose most recent book is Psychological Wellbeing in the Gulf States: The New Arabia Felix. Justin writes a regular column for The National and gives lectures and workshops on a variety of topics related to psychology and mental health.