In recent days, social media platforms have been flooded with harrowing images and misleading information surrounding the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel. Alongside genuine images of suffering, there has been an influx of false rumours and video game imagery, exacerbating the already dire situation. Amidst this chaos, it is crucial to acknowledge the tireless efforts of content moderators, who bear the heavy responsibility of sifting through this disturbing content to protect users from misinformation and graphic violence.
Understanding the struggles of content moderators
Content moderators face unique challenges due to their constant exposure to distressing material, demanding work conditions, and high-performance expectations. This week, and for the foreseeable future, content moderators have been tasked with screening content that ranges from false information to violent imagery, placing them at higher risk of vicarious trauma, PTSD, and burnout.
Importantly, this war will likely bring up intense emotions for many content moderators. For a variety of reasons, it is more likely that people will experience unwanted thoughts and emotions with a more severe impact on their psychological well-being. Moderators who are personally impacted due to their heritage, religion, or ties to either side of the conflict, are not only viewing graphic content for work, but also grappling with personal feelings related to the events occurring, such as fears and uncertainties for the safety of family members or the general community they are part of. In particular, Jewish people are being reminded of past traumas of the Holocaust, and Palestinians who have been under oppressive rule for such a long period will find it difficult to gain relief.
What can you, the employer, do to support and protect your content moderation team?
Considering these challenges, it is imperative for companies to support their content moderators effectively. Here are six essential strategies to ensure the psychological health and safety of your content moderation team:
1. Psychoeducation Interventions
Educate content moderators about the signs and symptoms of vicarious trauma, emphasizing the importance of self-care and distress management. Various studies have shown positive impacts of gaining self-awareness and emotional regulation skills on psychological well-being; ongoing training and consistency are key.
2. Mindfulness Interventions
Implement mindfulness-based interventions to reduce VT-related symptoms and promote mind-body health. Regular engagement in active and passive mindfulness exercises can minimise psychological impacts over time, addressing issues such as Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS), PTSD, and burnout. Consider interventions led by professionals such as box breathing, grounding, and taking mindful walks.
3. Art and Recreational Programs
Explore creative avenues like music, art and movement therapies which can offering content moderators an opportunity to express their emotions without needing to verbally discuss them. These types of interventions have been shown to aid traumatised individuals to process their deeply-held emotions, consolidating the experience between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
4. The Resilience Model
Adopt the Resilience Model, emphasizing self-knowledge, hope, healthy coping mechanisms, strong relationships, and personal perspective and meaning. Strengthening these core elements can significantly enhance resilience among content moderators, enabling them to cope better with the challenges they face.
5. Group Counselling and Peer Support
Organise group counselling or peer support sessions to enhance social supports which can reduce feelings of loneliness. These sessions should focus on shared experience and building a network of peers that can promote a sense of camaraderie among team members, mitigating the symptoms of vicarious trauma and burnout.
6. Individual Counselling
Provide personalized, one-on-one counselling to content moderators. Tailored counselling sessions can address specific concerns, offering a safe space for moderators to express their emotions, seek guidance, and develop coping strategies.
Any questions, feel free to reach out
Please make sure to acknowledge the challenges that content moderators will be dealing with over the next few weeks, encourage them to take breaks, ensure they are engaging with your organisation’s wellness offerings and just give them more space as they grapple with all the emotions they will be experiencing. Allow your moderators to tell you what it is they need in any given moment and make those accommodations where possible.
In these challenging times, it is paramount for companies to prioritize the well-being of their content moderators. By implementing these strategies, corporations can ensure their moderators not only endure the difficulties but also emerge stronger and more resilient, continuing their crucial work in safeguarding digital spaces for all users.