With this short blog, I would like to introduce you to the students on the Common Mental Health Presentations course, part of the Masters of Psychological Therapies at the School of Health in Social Science.
The course offers a theoretical introduction about mental health symptoms and disorders, meant to build a solid basis for the modules in cognitive behavioural therapy that will follow in the next 2 years of this full-time programme. Blogging is part of the weekly homework for the students, meant to engage them with the materials in a bit ‘freeer’ way than the academic assignments.
Blogging is a way of writing that incorporates both a reflective stance as well as the space to formulate one’s opinions and views in an accessible format. Blogs in general are meant to be disseminated across a wide variety of audiences compared to academic papers, and are frequently used in science communication. Despite good efforts in recent years to make academic publications accessible to all, many papers are still hidden behind a paywall, and if it is not that, then it is the sheer lack of familiarity with academic journals that may hinder scientific knowledge to reach audiences that may benefit most. Many staff in private practices or mental health charities may not have the funds to access published articles, let alone members of the general population.
Information on current evidence and best-practices on mental health should not be kept to the group that has access via their institutions, and blogging has proven to be a great way to reach wide audiences and engage them with current findings on mental health, to promote an understanding of mental health difficulties and options for treatment. In addition to the writing of critical summaries of research findings, by putting own reflections on paper in a non-subscript format, blogging gives our students the freedom to explore their own thoughts and views on certain topics. Most of the blogs for the course ‘Common Mental Health Presentations’ take their starting point from a quote, news article, social media, academic article, tv-series, films, books, or meme on topics of the teaching weeks. This points students towards the wide variety of mental health information that is out there and makes them aware of current views on mental health in the wider society. This increases awareness of possible stereotypical and stigmatising views, which may be beneficial to their clinical practice later on, as an abundance of research has shown that individual clients can be affected by mental health public and self-stigma.
What I am personally appreciating about blogging, is that by asking students to write blogs, it is also a great way for the teacher to get to know their students better, as automatically, the students’ personal voices shine through their blog posts, and the teacher will learn more about what is important to them.
The PGR community ‘Research Bow’ has given a platform to the voices of PhD students since 2019, and is now welcoming the students of the course ‘Common Mental Health Presentations’. My students and I welcome the collaboration with Research Bow and the hosting of any blogs the students would want to share with a wider audience. We are thankful for this opportunity to introduce the students to the wider world, and hope the readers will enjoy their thoughts on mental health, and learn something new along the way!