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Editor’s Note: Dennis Relojo-Howell, founder of Psychreg recently joined the AltNewsMedia team. Dennis will share insights and information on issues of mental health, psychology, well-being, social media and so much more. In his first article, Dennis talks about how blogging can be beneficial to mental health.
I came to the UK in 2013 to do a master’s degree in psychology. When I enrolled in the programme, I came with a specific research topic in mind: I wanted to explore the psychological benefits that people can get from keeping a journal – a practice known as expressive writing.
It’s a topic that is very close to my heart. As an introvert, social interactions can be quite draining for me. If people don’t ask me questions about myself or what I do, chances are I won’t open up and tell them.
But that’s not the same with journalling. I could just write whatever I want and I won’t feel uncomfortable. So I became a ‘journal junkie’ at a young age, so much so that long before I’ve come across of the word ‘expressive writing’, I have already been doing it myself.
Expressive writing is a form of therapy popularised by James Pennebaker in the 80s. Since then there were a host of research which reveal how beneficial expressive writing is: ranging from less visits to the GP, an improved immune system among HIV patients, and greater psychological well-being.
But fast forward in the internet era, we are no longer constrained on how we express ourselves in writing. We can now run our own blogs.
One statistic put out by blogging experts indicates that there were 152 million blogs on the internet as of 2013.
Blogging has become far-reaching in the digital world, and this has resulted into significant growth in the number of blogging genres – from travel blogs, to lifestyle blogs, and of course mental health blogs.
I have been blogging for the last 14 years; first, as a travel blogger and then later on as a mental health blogger.
Although I don’t have a mental health diagnosis, I find it rewarding to have my own mental health blog, where I curate all things mental health. Fundamentally, it’s an advocacy for me because I believe that blogs has the inherent power to address mental heath issues.
There is power in connecting with other people through digital writing. There is power in sharing our struggles.
Blogs have become so popular that there is now an emerging field that explores how blogs affect our well-being (among other things). This field is known as blog psychology.
This particular discipline attempts to apply psychological principles in order to optimise the benefits that readers can get from blogs.
Blog psychology deals with readers’ perception, cognition, and humanistic components in regards to their experience of consuming blogs.
Sharing a part of ourselves is indeed therapeutic. That’s why there are now many charities in the UK that encourage people with mental health stories to share their experiences through blogs. For instance, Mind and Sane regularly publish mental health stories. Mainstream media such as Metro is doing the same.
Everyone experiencing a mental health problem deserves support and respect, and blogging is an ideal platform to spread awareness and address the stigma surrounding mental health.