Mike Douglas writes the Top 10 Mental Health Blog Mike’s Open Journal. The blog focuses on mental health, while covering a range of lifestyle topics such as health, fitness, relationships, sex and local events. We spoke to Mike about the stigma around mental health issues, the importance of sharing and working collaboratively with PRs.
Why did you start your blog?
I started to write about my experiences, thoughts and feelings because I needed an outlet. I was in a particularly bad place with my mental health. I could not see a way out of the darkness or how I could continue. Writing, and subsequently blogging, provided me with an opportunity to express my thoughts and feelings, which is something I have always struggled with. As a dyslexic male that may not be a surprise.
Over time I became more confident in talking and sharing my struggles. Sharing for the first time on Facebook was a massive step for me. Since then, I have continued to write about my mental health including how it has and does affect other aspects of my life.
What’s the biggest issue facing mental health in the UK today?
Stigma. Mental health illnesses are bad enough. But for many of us, we are highly affected by something that can be prevented. Stigma will continue to exist until there is better understanding of mental health, mental health illnesses, the support that is available and the language we use in our communities.
How do you think mental health awareness has changed in recent years?
Awareness has improved thanks to national campaigns from people like Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and Heads Together. This has been implemented by use of ‘well known’ spokespeople and Champions (such as Time to Change Champions).
What advice would you give someone who was struggling with their mental health?
Talk to someone. You don’t have to say everything, you don’t have to tell everyone, just find one or two people you are able to talk to.
It could be a friend, family member, a co-worker, a fellow student, or it could be support online available through places like Mind or Samaritans.
Samaritans are not just for emergencies!
How do you engage with your readers and community?
I have created links within my local community to increase my awareness of local events and opportunities. Make Facebook’s local events page your friend.
I love talking to other people about their experience with mental health, just sitting down and talking about our day, habits and our health is a beautiful thing to be able to do. I am fortunate enough to have had over 20 guests on my podcast to talk about their experiences and thoughts regarding mental health.
This can help to make more people aware of my blog and my guest.
Additionally, I have enjoyed attending a range of meet ups and event, meeting new bloggers (and even friends!). This is a great way to really engage with the ‘community’ and actually meet people you talk to online.
How do you like to work with PRs?
Having an open dialogue is great. Sometimes there will be paid opportunities, sometimes they’re not paid. I think that’s fine. By being aware of what opportunities there are you can make informed choices on what you would like to be involved in and what fits with your blog/readers.
If you want tips for working with PR check out Rhiannon Olivia, she has some great content for bloggers new to PR and collaborations.
What one thing should brands or PRs know about you?
I write honestly about my experience/thoughts, because of this there will likely be mention of mental health (specifically mine) within a post.
I enjoy finding out about new products, services and/or experiences. I like sharing.
What other blogs do you read?
I read other mental health blogs, usually because of my interest or relationship with the blogger. My favourite at the moment is Sophie Edwards. There are also a couple of cool people like Rhiannon Olivia, who write about blogging and provide tips and insight that are really helpful.
I enjoy writing (self-promo, haha) and reading about fitness, wrestling, sex and relationships too. Currently I am loving Hannah & Fitness, the occasional post from Emma Luxton and the lovely photos posted by Jordan.
Mike Douglas and his blog are both listed on the Vuelio Influencer Database, which is the UK’s leading influencer database available to the PR and communications industries.