In common with other fields within psychology, critical health psychology thrives in scholarly debates on critical ideas in order to develop innovative ways to benefit both research and practice. Such critical conversations have never been much more feasible due to the explosion of the blogging culture.
It was estimated that in January 2017 there were more than 1.8 billion websites. And as most of us know already, a website can be a personal, commercial, governmental website, or a non-profit organisation. Websites are typically dedicated to a particular topic or purpose, ranging from entertainment and social networking, to providing news and, more importantly, as avenue for critical discussions.
Blogs are essentially another form of websites. At its core, as explained by the Balance, ‘blogs are websites which are frequently updated and allow reader engagement’. For instance, the ISCHP blog allows its readers to critically engage in a range of topics in health psychology, with the ultimate aim of addressing social, political, and cultural issues within the realms of the discipline.
It is generally recognised that blogging started in 1994, with Links.net considered to be the first ever blog. Blogging has come a long way – from being interactive, online forms of the traditional personal diary to becoming repository of critical discussions. What makes blogging even more remarkable is that it is democratic i.e., anyone can start their own.
Taking into account these features of blogging, it is arguably one of the effective medium to raise awareness about health psychology. Blogs have the capability to demonstrate that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood, and listened to. This is the core reason why I developed Psychreg to become a platform for people afflicted with mental health issues to share their narratives. Through the use of blogs, the powerful lived-experience narratives are reaching far more people.
With the increasing popularity of blogs, it is only sensible that they should be adapted in order to change the way people think and act about health psychology, and ultimately about mental health.
It is comforting to know is that across the world, people use blogs as an effective medium to share their narratives and experiences, to increase awareness and understanding, and to offer comfort and support. And not only that, blogs in similar genres are now being given recognition similar to those of mainstream blogs.
Needless to say, blogging is not just simply writing a blogpost (and getting to grips with WordPress); there is a psychology behind it. An emerging subfield in psychology that focuses on the application of psychological principles and research in order to optimise the benefits that readers can derive from consuming blogs is known as blog psychology. A recently published article explored the theoretical underpinnings of blog psychology such as readers’ perception, cognition, and humanistic components in regards to their experience of reading blogs.
Although blog psychology is still in its infancy, there is definitely a huge potential to it towards contributing to the discipline of health psychology. Indeed, with the continued popularity of blogs, it is crucial that a specialised discipline be developed to encompass all forms of internet-mediated communication, specifically in blogs, such as the use, design, and its impact on mental health and well-being of its readers.
Critical discussions about health psychology, mental health, and well-being play a vital role in helping people feel better about themselves. Blogging provides researchers and practitioners an excellent opportunity to create these conversations. It allows people to feel more connected to the world outside their home through the internet. This is the very reason the world needs dedicated critical healthy psychology bloggers, who will talk about relevant health psychology, mental health, and well-being issues. They can help us think progressively and critically, and in essence, help us build a world where everyone takes both health psychology and mental health more seriously.
These, along with other issues, are the points of discussion that I will unpack during my lecture at the upcoming 1st International Conference in Psychology, Counselling and Education (ICPCE 2018) which will be held from 2nd–4th August 2018 at New Era University in the Philippines.
Dennis Relojo is the founder of Psychreg and is also the Editor-in-Chief of Psychreg Journal of Psychology. Aside from PJP, he sits on the editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals, and is a Commissioning Editor for the International Society of Critical Health Psychology. A Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society, Dennis holds a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Hertfordshire. His research interest lies in the intersection of psychology and blogging. You can connect with him through Twitter @DennisRelojo and his website.