Omar Al Owais appointed as Rosalynn Carter Fellow for Mental Health Journalism

The programme aims to improve the quality and accuracy of mental health reporting

Omar Al Owais, a contributor to Sail magazine in Dubai and a student at the American University of Sharjah, has been awarded a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism.

He joins Nick Webster, one of The National's senior reporters, in the UAE programme of the year-long, non-residential fellowship, which aims to increase and improve the quality and accuracy of mental health reporting in the media.

The Carter Centre, a US-based 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.

Currently, it awards fellowships in the United States, Latin America and the Middle East, including the UAE, where two annual fellowships are granted in a programme overseen by The National.

"The Carter Centre has worked for more than two decades to develop a cohort of journalists who can have a significant impact on the public's understanding of mental illnesses," said former First Lady and Carter Centre co-founder Rosalynn Carter in an earlier statement.

“These journalists are making important contributions to lifting some of the stigma associated with mental health issues."

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, has served as a UAE youth ambassador to China.

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.

Both fellows will be assisted by a local advisory board in the UAE and experts and mentors in the US. They will visit the Carter Centre in Atlanta next September, when they will discuss their work during their fellowship year with a community of journalists and mental health experts and attend workshops on behavioural health.

Applications for the 2020-21 UAE cohort of Rosalynn Carter Fellows for Mental Health Journalism will open in February 2020.

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