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If your online harassment has escalated to the point that you aren’t sleeping well, eating right, or have become prone to bouts of anxiety that are interfering with your work or personal relationships, you may wish to consider seeking outside treatment or support.

Receiving help from a counselor or therapist is a great option for those with access to healthcare and/or the time to pursue this particular wellness option. We know seeking help might sound scary given how mental health can be stigmatized, but we encourage people to think of their mental health as any other health concern. If you suffer from the flu, a broken leg or stomach pain, wouldn’t you see a doctor? Our brains are just as much a part of our bodies as any other organ and should be treated as such. Also, there doesn’t have to be something “wrong” with you to seek mental health treatment, you are never the problem and  therapy is here to help you solve problems impacting your life, no matter how big or small they may seem.   

It is important to know that you are not alone, this is a whole society’s cultural and social struggle. The good news, however, is that this stigma is slowly decreasing and awareness is increasing as more people use social media as an informative tool to speak about their experience with mental health challenges. With this increase in awareness, more and more services are becoming remote and emphasizing the confidential nature of the support.

If your anxiety or depression have progressed to the point that you’re considering harming yourself, immediately speak to a trusted loved one, your healthcare provider and/or a trained representative from helplines. 

No matter what you might be going through, always try to take a step back and remember: This. Is. Not. Your. Fault.

Assessing Your Emotional Wellness

It is normal to experience negative emotions in response to online abuse, and they may go away once your harassment episode ends. This doesn’t make them any easier to process or experience; seeking help from a member of your support community or the advice of a wellness professional can help you take stock of what you’re experiencing. 

Common responses to online abuse include (Note: the following list has been adapted from Without My Consent (English):

  • Anxiety and fear
  • Fear for your safety
  • Memory loss
  • Feelings of detachment from those you love
  • Nightmares
  • Uncomfortable physical reactions (pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anger
  • Guilt, shame, embarrassment, or self-blame
  • Feelings of mistrust or betrayal
  • Depression and hopelessness
  • Feeling alienated or alone
  • Avoidance of people or social situations

Signs you may want to consider talking to a doctor or mental wellness professional (includes information from FightCyberCrime (English):

  • You are constantly paralyzed by fear and cannot complete normal day-to-day tasks.
  • You talk about your cyber abuse almost constantly, even to strangers.
  • You cannot enjoy your daily life because you continue to relive the trauma of your online abuse.
  • Your feelings of hopelessness or depression remain unchanged over time—even once the episode of online harassment has ended.

Finding Help

If the emotions above do not go away in time, or if certain feelings escalate to the point that they’re interfering with your personal life or productivity, consider speaking to your doctor or seeking the help of a mental health professional who is licensed to provide therapy services. 

We recognize that seeking help from a professional  might not be possible for everyone, however, especially for writers, journalists and activists in underserved communities or in uncertain financial situations. Whatever your situation, there are a number of options—including free online apps and sliding-scale therapeutic resources—available to help equip you with cognitive tools for surviving episodes of online harassment and facing anxiety or depression.

What is Therapy?

According to Mayo Clinic, therapy or psychotherapy is the process of working with a licensed therapist or counselor to develop positive thinking and coping skills to treat distress. Therapists use their knowledge and expertise to engage with patients in a safe space where people can openly express their fears, anxieties and feelings of sadness free of judgment. Through talk therapy, licensed professionals can help you identify the source of your pain and release it by finding healthy habits that are aligned with your life goals. Therapy can help you take control of your life and better understand what is and isn’t in your control. 

Traditional Therapy

For journalists and activists, finding a therapist you can trust is tricky, especially if you’re working on politically sensitive topics or dealing with targeted forms of harassment. This is why we highly recommend you consider the following tips when choosing a therapist: 


  • Recommendation- If someone within your network recommends a specific platform/ therapist/center, this can help you narrow down the options available. You might want to reach out to databases that you trust, and ask/seek recommendations.
  • Affordability- you might need to visit with the therapist on a weekly or biweekly basis, thus you will need to determine if their rates are affordable or within your budget. You can also see if  therapists provide income-based payment options or long-term payment plans. Check out this list of nonprofit organizations that may be able to provide financial support for journalists seeking assistance with mental health services. 
    1. Multicultural training- in recent years multicultural theories and content was integrated  into the curricula and training of therapists. Therefore, it is important to search for a therapist who appreciates, understands, and values the various other socio-cultural factors that are specific to your region and community. 
  • In-person vs online-  this would depend on your preference, scheduling, and which option is more likely to increase your motivation and commitment to the sessions. 
  • Characteristics- the following additional characteristics can be taken into consideration when you are choosing your potential therapist:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Religion- has an understanding of your religious background, if this is important to you
  • Credentials and education
  • Specialty- do they have a specific specialty? Is this specialty in line with your needs?


If you are in the United States, the Journalist Trauma Support Network has a directory of trauma-informed psychotherapists trained in working with journalists.

Online Therapy and Mental Health Apps

Online therapy can be a convenient and affordable way to access trained mental health professionals as it is an appealing option for targets of online abuse for whom traditional treatment is not financially or logistically viable. Online therapy saw tremendous growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is no surprise as people around the world faced increased levels of stress while they endured various lockdowns, lived under strict social distancing rules and faced severe economic challenges. Many people still choose to see doctors online and/or use online therapy apps and tools due to its convenience. 

Note: we acknowledge that there are some digital security risks associated with the use of online therapy. As such, we recommend readers to refer to the Prepare section of this guide to ensure your devices are safe from such threats.  

The internet might be the thing perpetuating your online abuse, but it can also offer you a form of relief. Mental health apps are an evolving resource helping to make therapy more accessible and affordable. When choosing a mental health app, you may want to consult Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included review of apps to ensure that it has strong privacy protections and digital security parameters. You can find guidance on how to choose the meditation app that’s right for you in this New York Times article.

Further Reading and Resources 


If you are based in the US:

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) offers this helpful guide for understanding treatment options and locating a mental health professional in your area. Concerned about cost? ADAA also offers this list of low-cost treatment options—including sliding-scale therapists and federally funded healthcare centers—as well as ideas for what to do when you can’t afford therapy.

If you are a journalist, you may be able to access funding for mental health care from the International Women’s Media Foundation:

New York City



If you are based outside of the US: 

  • The IWMF Emergency Fund provides small grants to women journalists around the world for medical and psychological care required as a result of threats or violence suffered in retaliation for their work. It also provides three months of assistance to relocate journalists if their safety is under threat, and legal assistance for issues related to censorship and imprisonment.
  • Media professionals and organizations can apply for assistance through Reporters Respond, from Free Press Unlimited, and receive coverage for medical assistance, living costs, psychological support, digital security tools, support for family members, as well as training and prevention measures to avoid censorship and have secure communications.
  • The UNESCO Journalist Support Group aims to respond to the impact on the mental health of journalists, providing brief psychological interventions to strengthen the psychosocial adaptation and emotional management of journalists and their families in the face of possible crises.
  • Media Defense provides legal support to journalists, bloggers, photojournalists, cartoonists, fact-checkers, and independent media when they face legal proceedings as a result of their reporting or investigation work. They can also finance a person’s legal defense and help them find legal representation.

Depending on where you are based, you can also find additional resources in Arabic, in Swahili,  in French, and in Spanish.