Blogging came into existence in the mid-90’s and is now part of our mainstream culture. However, long before the advent of the internet, writing was advocated by psychologists as a constructive way to process thoughts and emotions which arose from traumatic experiences.
Purposeful writing has psychological benefits such as lowering anxiety, reducing ruminative thoughts and depressive symptoms. Writing offers a unique sense of purpose and achievement, and the opportunity to develop important and rewarding writing skills.
Writing empowers, and by reframing your relationship with your mental health it can help you understand your problems in a more productive way. This can help you think differently and make meaningful changes in your life. Writing, like therapy, makes use of a ‘third space’ in which people can safely share and learn about themselves.
The anonymity associated with blogging is also valuable and allows some people to express themselves freely and without fear of negative repercussions.
Blogging also adds a public element to the writing process, as other people read your writing. Research and clinical evidence (such as in group therapy) supports the idea that communal communication offers additional benefits, such as helping others, fostering hope and providing a sense of universality.
Sense of community
We are social creatures and blogging about mental health creates and maintains a community and a sense of belonging. This allows people to share their innermost thoughts as they know they will be understood and are not on their own.
Mental health blogs capitalise on the relatable nature of issues. We learn by social modelling, and people love to read about what other people experience, see how they manage, how they progress and overcome challenges. Blogging about mental health issues, helps people feel connected, empowered and energised and can help them feel less stuck and alone with their problems and distress.
We all have mental health, and blogs importantly, effectively and creatively raise mental health awareness. Knowledge and understanding are part of the antidote to the stigma and negative psychological and social effects associated with mental health.
Two types of experts exist: experts by training and experts by experience. Mental health blogs embrace the value of the expert by experience. Blogs are a form of self-expression, education, and can be inspiring, empowering and therapeutic.
The meaningful conversations taking place from blogs can help you develop confidence and courage, which can lead you to have different conversations with people around you. They can also change your relationship to help – asking and receiving.
Mental health blogs encourage progressive thinking about mental health and the diverse ways it can affect us. This keeps mental health high on our personal, community and societal agenda and contributes to the efforts to make mental health mainstream. This helps reduce discrimination, isolation, and negativity people who experience difficulties may feel.
There are a range of benefits to blogging
Scientific research demonstrates that writing can have a positive physical impact too. This includes enhanced immune function, lower blood pressure, decreased heart rate, a reduction in asthma and arthritis symptoms, and fewer sleep disturbances.
You should invest in yourself and society differently. When blogging about mental health, there are no limits to what people may be interested in. There will always be someone interested in reading what you have to say. Take a positive risk, a deep breath, and remember that every story starts with the first word.
Blogging about mental health can bring real benefits, however, negative comments can be an issue. While being open and transparent about your mental health can leave you empowered and connected, be aware that you may be the focus of negative comments, and the importance of looking after yourself online and offline.
There are waiting lists for NHS therapy, and not everyone can afford private therapy. Mental health blogs can be therapeutic; however, everyone’s mental health is different. Some people may require more support and may benefit from taking their online blog offline and talking with a qualified mental health professional.
Some blogs promote harmful behaviour under the guise of mental health support. If you are affected by something that you have read online, you may want to visit your GP or contact a private therapist.
Dr Roberta Babb is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist. She is also an accredited Forensic Psychodynamic Psychotherapist.