Psychological Media Support Program 2023

In 2023, Lviv Media Forum organized 11 retreats for over 130 journalists.

Journalists face the threat of personal safety, financial instability, chronic overtime, and psychological pressure. All of this, in combination, contributes to burnout. However, journalists often overlook exhaustion because they feel a responsibility to their audience. 

The idea behind the Lviv Media Forum residencies is precisely to improve the psychoemotional well-being of journalists, promote the restoration of internal resources, and maintain balance.

Residencies in the Carpathians are part of the Psychological Media Support Program we launched last year. At that time, our research team analyzed the needs of local media. According to the research results, 36% of Ukrainian journalists needed psychological support.

In the first season of retreats in 2022, Lviv Media Forum reset over 120 media professionals, and received 98% positive feedback on participation in the project. The logical decision for our team was to continue with the residencies.

Where and in what format were the retreats held?

“The Carpathians became the setting for our project, which, in our view, can switch participants from survival mode to relaxation mode, at least for a while,” says the Lviv Media Forum team. “But we have seen that, in addition to exploring the culture and nature of the Hutsul region, an essential component of recovery is the opportunity to exchange experiences and engage in conversations with colleagues. In times of war, many lack precisely this informal interaction and support.”

The conditions for participating in the retreat included the need for a reset and psychological support, a minimum of two years of media work before the full-scale invasion, and experience on the front lines or a similar context.

The retreat program combines cultural and educational components, including mountain hiking, film screenings and discussions, rafting, a walk around Kosiv, as well as visits to several museums. A week spent in nature provides an opportunity for a change of scenery and a chance to finally let go. Journalists can embark on a journey to the Carpathians with a beloved pet, child, partner, editor, or anyone dear and important.

How does the reset work? 

Some found new energy to continue their work, others launched projects they had long postponed, and some found a partner for a joint project. Here’s what the media professionals say about the retreat:

“When I arrived at the retreat, my mind was in chaos, and my body was tired from the pace of life. In the mountains, I seemed to slow down, contemplate, and breathe a lot. It helped bring order to the chaos in my mind and relieve the tension of events in my body. Moreover, we often talked with participants about work and ourselves in its context. These conversations helped broaden the understanding of the processes currently taking place in Ukrainian journalism. Since journalists were mostly from the east and center of Ukraine, the retreat helped analyze the situation in the regions through colleagues working in local media. Plus, new relationships were formed with people who still keep in touch,” shares Nataliia Nekypila, editor-in-chief of Radio Nakypilo.

<i>Nataliia Nekypila, editor-in-chief of Radio Nakypilo</i>
Nataliia Nekypila, editor-in-chief of Radio Nakypilo

“I don’t think the retreat was meant to directly solve my problems or issues; at least, I didn’t set such a goal for myself. However, it was excellent for a reboot,” says Margaryta Ohnieva, journalist of the Zaporizhzhia Investigation Center. “The daily excursions and activities were really cool. It was pleasant that it wasn’t mandatory to participate in them if you didn’t have the energy or needed to work (specifics of the job: even during the retreat, there were times when work tasks needed to be addressed). Without a doubt, such events should be repeated! It’s both networking with colleagues from other regions and just discovering new people. Plus, a change of scenery, beautiful landscapes, and unconventional cuisine. It’s all just wonderful! Of course, I recommend others to give it a try. And if you’re worried that you don’t have anyone to go with, that’s not a problem either: you’ll definitely find company.”

<i>Margaryta Ogneva, journalist of the Zaporizhzhia Investigation Center</i>
Margaryta Ogneva, journalist of the Zaporizhzhia Investigation Center

“Retreats are necessary to take a break from the endless flow of news and stories that make up the fabric of every journalist’s days, and sometimes nights. Dear Lviv Media Forum envelops its residents with such warmth and care that it’s impossible not to confess your love to it,” says Natalia Kulakevich, the editor of the website at the investigative agency Slidstvo.Info.

<b><i>Natalia Kulakevich, the editor of the Slidstvo.Info </i></b><b><i>website</i></b>
Natalia Kulakevich, the editor of the Slidstvo.Info website

More reviews can be found on the pages of the Lviv Media Forum on Facebook and Instagram.  

We also recommend reading the material on the online media outlet "Rubryka," which operates in the format of solution journalism, "Stop, exhale, and inhale the Carpathian air: how and why retreats for Ukrainian journalists work."

Thank you to all the donors and partners who supported the Psychological Media Support Program in 2023. The Lviv Media Forum team plans to continue organizing retreats in 2024.