This post is at the request of some members of the judging panel for the recent TWIM Awards for excellence in mental health blogging.
When Pan and I asked the judges to decide which blogs they thought were the best, we didn’t actually give them any criteria as such – judges were left to form their own views as to what makes for a great mental health blog. It’s been suggested that it might be useful for next year’s TWIM Awards to come up with some sort of criteria, and that it might be worthwhile trying to crowdsource the criteria by gaining feedback from readers.
So, with that in mind, what do you think makes for a great mental health blog? What blogs do you like, and why do you like them?
To get the ball rolling, Sectioned, who was one of the TWIM Awards judges, has provided some suggestions for a future set of judging criteria.
- accessiblity – eg a blog written in tiny black text on a vivid green background; or which is hard to navigate your way round would lose points
– writing style – ie nicely written, in paragraphs rather than just pages and pages without punctuation;
– quality of contents – whether the posts were informative (eg rather than just a rant!)
– relevant content to the category (eg a blog ostensibly about autism that spoke primarily about food would lose marks)
– presentation (eg pretty pictures, looks nice)
I’d agree with all of these. I’d also add a further criterion, which is distinctiveness
. Does the blog say things that aren’t necessarily being said elsewhere? A good example of this is Mental Health Cop
, which not only won Blogger NOS at the TWIM Awards, but also the Mark Hanson Award for Digital Media at the Mind Media Awards. Before this blog was started, a lot of people simply didn’t think about the role of the police in mental health issues, and I think Inspector Brown has done a good job not only in educating his colleagues, but also demonstrating that their role is bigger than one might assume.
Writing style is definitely an important one for me. Chaos and Control
, which won the Wildcard Award, and was a runner-up in the Anxiety, Stress or Trauma category, is probably my favourite example of this. Her writing style is quirky, but also very accessible. She draws the reader into the world of Happyville, populated by the likes of Dr Shrinky, Dr Down-to-Earth, Wise Friend and Housematey, adding a magical touch to the realism.
Quality of content can be seen in Purple Persuasion
, who won the Mood Disorders category. Her recent posts include informed, articulate discussions of such topics as whether to tell your work colleagues you have a mental illness, the weight gain effects of psychiatric medications, and what not to say to a friend with a mental illness. Another good example is The Masked AMHP
, who not only won Nursing, Social Work and Professions Allied to Medicine, but has actually picked up a TWIM Award for four consecutive years. This is due to the lucid way in which he describes the often complex nature of Mental Health Act decisions.
I could probably forgive good writing on a badly designed blog more quickly than bad writing on a good design. Even so, it’s true that the look and feel of a blog is very important. Giant Fossilised Armadillo
, winner in the Eating Disorders category, received praise for her use of photography and art. So too did Aspergers and the Alien
, winner in the Autistic Spectrum Disorders category.
So, those are my thoughts and Sectioned’s. What are yours?