Mental Health Experts By Experience And Blogging

Writing a blog can be extremely effective self therapy and also help others to feel less alone in fighting their personal battle. Also, when people write about their own personal experiences this can provide unique insights into mental health conditions that won’t be found in standard text books. 

Indeed, EXPERTS BY EXPERIENCE are now recognized by the NHS in the UK and are defined as ‘people who have recent personal experience (within the last five years) of using or caring for someone who uses health and/or social care services [regulated by the NHS]’ who play a pivotal role in helping to ensure the organizational develops ‘in relation to the needs of service users and carers.’ 

Those who have actually experienced mental illness or substance abuse issues personally are described as having ‘lived experience’ which is defined as ‘having had ‘first-hand experience with mental health or substance use’ as distinct from ‘those who may have experience working with mental health and substance use conditions but have not personally lived through those challenges.’ 

Lived experience is of vital importance because people cannot fully appreciate what it’s like to suffer from a mental illness unless they have experienced it DIRECTLY themselves. 

To reflect the value experts by experience bring to the NHS, they are, of course, paid and training is provided. 

Having a blog about your experience of mental illness will, of course, be of great benefit if you choose in the future to work as experts by experience, help establish you as an expert and be of great benefit to those you help. However, I cannot stress enough that it will also help you develop further insight into your problems which is crucial to recovery and posttraumatic growth. 

And, of course, it is not necessary to take on a formal role working for the NHS as an expert by experience; you can act as a private advocate for those with mental health conditions, increasing awareness and reducing stigma. 

Having a blog can also lead to new friendships with people to whom you can really relate and networking opportunities. And, once it is established, it can offer an income through the promotion of products and services you think will help others and/or through advertising revenue. 

A study carried out in 2013 at the University of Haifa involving 161 students in high school revealed that writing a blog had a greater beneficial effect on their mental health than writing a private diary. Benefits included reducing social anxiety and improving self-esteem. 

So why not start a blog as part of your mental health recovery program?