We’re so thrilled to have you contribute to the Active Minds blog! Mental health is an issue that is frequently covered by the media and it’s important for Active Minds to be part of that larger conversation. You’ll find our writing tips and journalistic guidelines for writing about mental health below. It is very important you review this material before submitting your blog post!
(PS: If you’ve already done your homework and read the guidelines, you can scroll to the bottom and hit SUBMIT)
- Don’t bury your lead. Skip straight to the point to catch your reader’s attention.
- Know your audience. What are you interested in reading about? Start there and remember your purpose for writing.
- Lose the long sentences and paragraphs. Format your content so that it’s easy to scan. Break things up using bullet points and keep your paragraphs to 3-4 sentences long.
- Get creative. If you can explain your point using an infographic vs a paragraph, do it. Photos, videos, and gifs are strongly encouraged.
- Write like you talk. Reading your post out loud to a friend and ask them to identify areas that felt too clunky or long-winded.
- Be authentic. Don’t be afraid to write in your own voice! Our audience values authenticity over perfection, so don’t be afraid to be yourself. Your perspectives are unique, informed, and important.
- Quality over quantity. Be informative and share knowledge, but try to keep your posts to 500-750 words.
Journalistic guidelines for writing about mental health:
- Avoid using words like “crazy,” “schizo,” “insane,” etc. Similarly, do not use mental health terms inappropriately (eg. “The weather is so bipolar.”)
- When possible, use gender neutral terms such as “they” rather than: he, she, his, her. Additionally, use the gender neutral term for ethnic groups (eg. Latinx)
- Use person-first language (eg. “person with anorexia” vs. “anorexic”)
- When discussing suicide, use the phrase “died by suicide” rather than “committed suicide.” “Committed” connotes a crime or being committed to a hospital.
- “Suicide survivor” refers to the family member or friend of the person who died by suicide.
- “Suicide attempt survivor” is the person who attempted suicide.
- We use the phrases “people of color,” “students of color,” and “communities of color” to refer to people who do not self-identify as Caucasian.
- Provide sources for any facts stated.
Types of blog posts:
- First-person story
- Trends on campus
- Reviews or recommendations
- Interviews / Q & A
- Photo/ Video focused
- Highlighting calendar moments and awareness campaigns (ex: first day of school, Stress Less Week, Suicide Prevention Month, National Self Harm Awareness Day, Eating Disorders Awareness Week, finals week, etc.)
- You may write on any topic related to mental health, but we may prioritize submissions deemed more relevant to students or current events
Don’t forget to:
- Include LINKS!
- Write a short, snappy title
- Provide images/media with your submission
- Share with us a little bit about yourself (1-3 sentences) and a photo for your bio info!