Mental Health Benefits of Blogging: Updated Survey Results

the words mental health on laptop screen
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

Thanks to everyone who filled out my survey on the therapeutic benefits of blogging. I initially published results last weekend, but then decided to extend the survey and do an update today. In the end, there were 45 responses, although not everyone answered every question. There weren’t any major changes compared to the preliminary results with 37 responses.

Some people answered the survey questions in the comments section of last weekend’s post because for whatever reason the Google Form wasn’t working for everyone (still haven’t figured out why that is). I haven’t included those in the stats because I’m just going with what Google Forms has generated for me, including these pie charts. I can’t figure out how to get the html to make them fancy and show you what each pie piece represents if you hover over it, so I’ve just captured them as screenshots.


The survey results

Blogger characteristics

How long have you been blogging? 4+ years (54.5%), 1-3 years (29.5%), <1 year 19%

How long have you been blogging?

  • < 1 year: 15.9%
  • 1-3 years: 29.5%
  • 4+ years: 54.5%

There were some differences in how people who’ve been blogging for different lengths of time answered certain questions.


Is your blog anonymous? 15.9% yes, 38.6% no, 45.5% semi-anonymous

Is your blog anonymous?

  • Yes: 15.9%
  • No: 38.6%
  • Semi-anonymous: 45.5%

I talked in the preliminary results post about anonymity involving two elements, discoverability and recognizability. When I started blogging, I was going by ashleyleia and using a picture with my face partially obscured by Cookie the guinea pig. I was very recognizable, but I wasn’t particularly discoverable, as my full name wasn’t on my blog anywhere. I think it’s generally a good idea to Google yourself regularly, and if you think you’re semi-anonymous, see if you can find yourself using search terms that people in your life might actually think of.


Benefits of blogging

Do you believe your mental health benefits from blogging? 99.9% yes, 2.3% no, 9.1% not sure

Do you believe your mental health benefits from blogging?

  • Yes: 88.8%
  • No: 2.3%
  • Not sure: 9.1%

No surprises here.


Is being anonymous important to access the MH benefits of blogging? 57.1% yes, 20% no, 22.9% not sure

If your blog is anonymous, do you believe that being able to be anonymous is important for you to access the mental health benefits of blogging?

  • Yes: 57.1%
  • No: 20%
  • Not sure: 22.9%

What are the top 3 most important mental health benefits to you?

  1. Writing is a way to work through thoughts and emotions
  2. Self-expression
  3. Connecting with others with similar experiences
  4. A 2-way time between: Catharsis | Reading others’ experiences gives you a new perspective on your own
  5. Social support from the blogging community
  6. Learning new things
  7. A form of mentally stimulating activity
  8. Getting feedback/suggestions based on what you write

These responses were all selected by >10% of people. There were ties for the top 3 answers in the preliminary results last week, but they’ve separated out a bit in these results. This is pretty similar to how I’d rank them for myself, although for me social support would be higher, largely because I don’t have much IRL social support.

These were some of the other benefits identified:

  • Exposure to new strategies for dealing with mental illness
  • Helps with staying positive while dealing with challenges
  • A way to harness emotions and use them for creative expression
  • It helps with imagining a future

I could figure out how to set up this question so Google Forms would only accept three answers, so the responses are a blend of top 3 and just benefits in general.


Stigma

Does blogging change how you react to stigma? 53.3% makes it easier, 15.6% no difference, 31.1% not sure

Do you believe that blogging changes how you react to stigma?

  • Yes, makes it easier: 53.3%
  • No difference: 15.6%
  • Not sure: 31.1%

People who’ve been blogging 1-3 years were the most likely to say yes, and people who’ve been blogging for ≤1 year were most likely to be unsure. I like that there’s so many yeses. I find that it’s helpful to be reminded that stigma isn’t something that happens to me, it’s part of the bigger picture as something that happens to us and that we can fight back against together.


IRL support network

Do you have a support network of people with mental illness IRL? 37.8% yes, 62.2% no

Do you have a social support network of other people with mental illness in real life?

  • Yes: 37.8%
  • No: 62.2%

This is something I lack.


Self-expression

Do you find self-expression easier in person or in writing? 60% in writing, 2.2% in person, 37.8% it varies

Do you find self-expression to be easier in person or in writing?

  • In person: 2.2%
  • In writing: 60%
  • It varies: 37.8%

I’m not surprised that the majority of people picked writing. Among people who’d been blogging for 4+ years, 3/4 picked writing. Depression makes me really bad at in-person, so I’m writing all the way.


Masking

Do you feel pressure to mask your mental illness IRL? 46.7% yes - often, 40% yes - sometimes, 13.3% yes- no

Do you feel pressure to mask your mental illness in real life?

  • Yes, often: 46.7%
  • Yes, sometimes: 40%
  • No: 13.3%

That’s a lot of people who feel pressured to mask at least some of the time. I can’t mask anymore; my symptoms are too physically overt to be able to try to hide. I used to care that I looked impaired, but I no longer have any fucks to give for that kind of thing.


Do you feel pressure to mask aspects of your mental illness on your blog? 8.9% yes, 40% sometimes, 51.1% no

Do you feel pressure to mask or minimize aspects of your mental illness on your blog?

  • Yes: 8.9%
  • No: 51.1%
  • Sometimes: 40%

I like that so few people said yes.

As I mentioned last week, my answer is sometimes. When I’m on a downward trajectory, I tend to start disliking blogging and disliking dealing with people. I don’t mask so much as I’m very deliberate about what I’m willing to disclose. If I’m feeling suicidal, I would never disclose it on the blog until after it had passed, because when I’m in that headspace, I don’t want people fussing over me.


Learning new strategies

Have you learned of new treatment options or coping strategies from other bloggers? 77.8% yes, 22.2% no

Have you learned of new treatment options or coping strategies from other bloggers?

  • Yes: 77.8%
  • No: 22.2%

The people who’ve been blogging for less than a year were more likely to say no than people who’ve been blogging longer.

I’ve learned a ton from other bloggers. That’s not always in terms of treatment options or coping strategies that would work for me personally, but there are a lot of things that I’ve heard other bloggers mention and then I research to do a what is… series post.


Self-advocacy

Has blogging affected your confidence advocating for yourself? 77.3% yes, 22.7% no

Has blogging affected your confidence advocating for yourself (in any context)?

  • Yes: 77.7%
  • No: 22.7%

The yeses are a bit higher this time. In the group of people who’ve been blogging for less than a year, only 2/3 said yes.

I love that so many people said yes. This is probably the result that excites me the most.


I think blogging is a wonderful thing, and clearly other people are happy with it too. What did you think of the results?

28 thoughts on “Mental Health Benefits of Blogging: Updated Survey Results”

  1. Yes, with all of the support of fellow bloggers I feel that we are United and therefore I am stronger out in the world, even if it only means that I stand up straighter or walk with more confidence. I am sorry about your physical impairments that make it difficult to mask. For what it’s worth I think you are a beautiful person 😊 💕

  2. This is awesome Ashley. I thank you for all your hard work. You are so inspiring and dedicated to helping change happen.
    Make sure you are still taking time for self care.
    Working on a project can be a great distraction, but remember that you have to take breaks for yourself.
    Sometimes I get so focused on the distraction that in the end I end up making things worse for my mental health.
    Just gotta say that because I really care about you.
    BTW You are a Rock Star

  3. I love it, everything you do, even in posting pie charts & these results, contribute to normalising the discussion of mental health. I am amazed and inspired by your work.

  4. I love how you’ve teased out extra insights from the data, like how those who’ve been blogging for a shorter duration are more likely to have reported ‘no’ to learning new techniques/coping strategies. You’ve done amazingly well with this, it looks brilliant and it’s so cool to see the results in visual format to better grasp what they show as a snapshot. I think it’s fair to say blogging can have some brilliant benefits for mental health, learning, connecting with others, etc. I also really like how someone added it helps them with imagining a future. I’d agree with that, it does. xx

    1. Despite some hiccups, Google Forms is an amazing tool. It generates a spreadsheet with everyone’s responses. I just colour-coded them and rearranged the rows, and then it was really easy to see patterns.

      I also agree with imagining a future. It’s easier to feel hope as part of a collective than to come up with it alone.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog post, Ashley. Reminds me of a project we had to do in nursing school which involved windshield surveys and pie charts! What I found most interesting about the questions was the one about having social supports. I’m part of the majority as well who doesn’t have very many social supports offline….

    P.S. I tried to answer the survey questions but sadly it didn’t work on my phone.

    1. Hmm, I wonder if Google Forms has issues on mobile, and that’s why some people couldn’t access it.

      I don’t think I’ve heard the term windshield survey since back in nursing school…

  6. My capacity of in-person is practically 0 for the past 6 months I feel.  I can’t mask symptoms for more than 5 minutes anymore, and feel stigma cut much more deeply. So grateful for community here!

  7. This is such good information. I do think blogging supports emotional expression and connectivity. Thank you for this information Ashley. You are an excellent advocate. I always appreciate you, your thought, and excellent resources you provide.

  8. I’m very satisfied with the results. Blogging has so many mental health benefits, unlike Instagram and Facebook which can sometimes be harmful to mental health. I love the blogging community, especially here on WordPress. We’re like a supportive extended family.

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