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This year, Rawaa Augé, a reporter at the Al Jazeera Arabic Channel, and host of the award-winning talk show “Bekasrtaa”, will be joining the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism (RCJF), a year-long global mental health journalism program designed to train journalists from around the world to report on mental health topics with both sensitivity and accuracy. 

Rawaa is passionate about bringing the discussion on mental health issues to the forefront, particularly from women’s viewpoint. Her talk show “Bekasrtaa”, which launched in November 2019, is an apt reflection of her interests. The show was created for and is targeted at women, and discusses political, social and psychological topics from a female perspective. Several of the show’s episodes have already tackled issues surrounding mental health, specifically in the context of war, divorce or unemployment.

Rawaa wishes to build on the success of her impactful TV show and capitalise on Al Jazeera’s strong media position to improve on mental health reporting. As part of her yearlong fellowship, she intends to create a documentary highlighting mental health issues, particularly from the perspective of women in the Arab world, to be aired on AJ Arabic channel.

Created in 1996 by the former First Lady of the United States, the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism (RCJF) is a global program which was brought to Qatar in 2016 through the partnership between the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) and The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The Carter Center was set up in 1982 by Rosalynn Carter and her husband, former US President Jimmy Carter, in order to resolve conflicts around the world, promote democracy and fight disease.

The prestigious global fellowship supports journalists who are committed to accurately reporting on mental health issues in their community, as well as raising awareness and challenging stigma and discrimination. WISH, Qatar Foundation’s global initiative, manages the programme in Qatar, selecting journalists to take part in the fellowship, facilitating media training and adapting the programme to meet the needs of local media.

This year’s program started on 20 September and will be delivered virtually due to COVID-19-related restrictions. Joining Rawaa are Inaara Gangji and Maryam Abujbara, both students at Northwestern University in Qatar. Inaara and Maryam enrolled in the RCJF program last year as part of a Student Scholarship Program that was established in 2018 by The Carter Center and WISH, as an integral part of the main fellowship.

Due to logistical difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the two students could not conclude their training within the initial timeframe and will therefore continue working for another year on their projects that investigate specific topics around mental health in Qatar, with the impact of COVID-19 being the dominant focus.

WISH has a long-standing commitment to promoting mental health in the community, combat stigma and discrimination through its research work with local and international partners, as well as community outreach activities. Establishing the Student Scholarship program within the RCJF program was based on WISH’s belief that it is essential to train students before they commence their professional careers, so they can learn best practices for reporting on mental health issues in Qatar with accuracy, integrity, and cultural sensitivity.

The three fellows from Qatar are set to present their finished projects, including published material, to The Carter Center in September 2022.

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