How to Write About Mental Wellness

Tips for bloggers, professional writers, and content creatorsSmiling woman with glasses sitting on a couch with her laptopPhoto by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Globally, mental wellness is a staggering $121 billion industry. The market is driven by a huge demand for solutions to improve sleep and senses, brain-boosting nutraceuticals, self-improvement, and meditation and mindfulness.

It’s no surprise because while life before COVID-19 had been stressful for many of us, the pandemic continues to take a heavy toll on our collective mental wellness and health.

Mental wellness content like articles, website or email copy can help raise awareness about issues, or inform people about a new meditation app or a brain-training service. Some of you may want to share your personal journey on a blog or discuss the mental wellness of a fictional character in a story.

Approaching these topics requires sensitivity. Here are some tips.

1. Do not diagnose

Do not diagnose readers based on their comments or responses. Display empathy but be sure to direct anyone seeking confirmation of symptoms towards a licensed professional.

2. Do not judge

Remedies, therapies, medication, or technology that may have helped you may not work for some others. And that’s ok. Please remember to keep an open mind when engaging with readers who share their experiences.

Avoid labeling people by their health issues — mental or physical.3. Research trigger warnings

Topics like self-harm can potentially trigger extreme distress or overwhelm some of your readers. This may be true even for a fictional depiction of a character’s state of mind. Based on your content and your country, you may need to add trigger warnings for specific content. As a best practice, do the research before you publish.

For corporate content, check with your clients. Many may have approved verbiage.

4. Include disclaimers and resources

For sensitive topics like with mental wellness and mental health conditions, you may need to add links to certain helplines or websites. Rules vary based on your country, the publication platform, and type of content.

For example, in the United States, the National Institute for Mental Health or NIMH offers a list of resources. In the UK, the NHS has a mental health helpline and assistance.

For corporate content, verify with your clients if you need to add disclaimers.

5. Use has or have, not is or are

Avoid labeling people by their health issues — mental or physical.

We do not say, “He is cancer” or “They are diabetes.” It’s the same for mental health. Say, “If you have anxiety,” or “If you feel anxious,” not “If you are anxious.”

6. Avoid absolutes

Dealing with, and treating issues related to mental health and wellness is complex. It often requires a multi-faceted, personalized approach. Refrain from using inaccurate absolute claims like, “Our app will cure your insomnia.”

Instead, armed with the right data or information, it is better to phrase your claims like:

“Some people may feel…”“Data shows that…” (Assuming there is data)“Benefits of this service may include…”“If you feel X or Y, you may want to try…”

To get better, read content from writers who cover mental wellness and mental health. Here are some resources to get you started.

BuzzFeed's Style Guidelines For Writing About Mental HealthWords Matter: Reporting on Mental Health Conditions

How to Write About Mental Wellness was originally published in The Writing Cooperative on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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  • May 6, 2021
  • NEWS