Tips for Writing Compassionate Articles About Sensitive Topics from Our Experienced Mental Health Writers
Mental health writers fulfill an important role in helping people connect with the services they need to live joyful lives. Content writers in this niche are often called upon to write about sensitive topics. Discussing mental health disorders, violence, abuse, and addiction requires a balance that other topics may not.
In addition to motivating readers to contact a provider, writing about mental health topics helps to break down stigmas. Great content can literally mean the difference in whether someone gets the life-saving help they need or not.
That’s a huge responsibility. Fortunately, it is possible to provide high-level content consistently if you follow a few guidelines and remember you are writing for real people who need solutions to real problems.
Avoid Stigmatizing Language
Just as the world’s cultural understanding of mental health has changed through the years, so has the language considered appropriate for talking about those issues. Terms like “clean” and “addict” were once frequently used when discussing people with substance use disorders. Today, those words are considered outdated, if not pejorative.
But you don’t need to be a lexicographer to avoid using the wrong words. When a mental health content writer uses language that is respectful and up-to-date, they set a positive tone.
Most clients want to avoid words and phrases that are considered stigmatizing. However, language that’s considered stigmatizing may differ from client to client. The best approach is for mental health writers to ask clients about their preferences for potentially problematic terms.
Well Beings provides a downloadable language guide designed to help fight stigmas around mental health problems. Some of the key takeaways from the guide include:
- Use person-first language, such as “She has schizophrenia” instead of “She’s a schizophrenic”
- Don’t use mental health diagnostic terms to describe everyday events, such as “This weather is bipolar”
- Use inclusive language that welcomes diverse populations
When writing about sensitive topics, language matters. Using updated terms not only shows clients in a positive light; it also assists in accomplishing the primary goal of mental health writing: encouraging readers to get the mental health care they need.
Cite Expert Sources
Whether you write blogs or landing pages, high-authority sources improve your credibility as a mental health writer, and they help your client rank better in search results.
Reliable sources also improve the reader experience. Including them builds trust and shows that the provider cares enough to hire mental health writers who do thorough research.
Whether to include external links to those sources is ultimately up to the client. However, relevant external links help search engines better understand content relevance and will lead to a better search engine results page (SERP) ranking.
Even if the client forgets to mention it, never link to sources that may be competitors. Not only is this in conflict with the client’s needs, but it could also confuse readers who are looking for treatment.
Write with Compassion
Providing great content writing for rehabs and therapists is about more than writing skills. Showing compassion for readers is what will make your content stand out from the rest. Compassion doesn’t mean sugarcoating the situation or avoiding reality. Instead, writing with compassion requires thinking about the reader’s needs.
Consider these questions carefully:
Who Will Read This Content?
Make certain you understand who the client’s audience is and what services they are looking for. What are the main concerns of a parent with a depressive disorder or a student who is abusing ADHD medication? Focusing on readers’ needs, not their disorders, will naturally lead to a compassionate tone without overdoing it.
What Questions Does the Reader Have?
If you were experiencing depression symptoms or had a loved one who was drinking too much, what information would you be seeking? You don’t have to be a psychologist to guess what questions might be on a reader’s mind. Take a moment to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and write the content that will be most helpful for them.
Is My Copy Empathetic?
Empathy is the ability to understand what another person is going through, even if you haven’t had that specific experience yourself.
Most people interested in mental health content writing are naturally empathetic. They enjoy copywriting for therapists and clinics because they can imagine how difficult it is to survive trauma or live with mental illness, and they want to help.
All professional content should be informative and engaging. Mental health writers need to go a step beyond informative. Showing genuine empathy while maintaining professionalism will help you create effective copy.
Don’t Shame or Blame — Encourage
People who are living with mental illness, including substance use disorders, already feel guilty. They blame themselves for their condition and its negative impacts on their loved ones. The last thing they need from a wellness facility is to be told they have failed.
Mental health writers have an opportunity to encourage readers to contact the providers that could help them live happier, healthier lives.
Let readers know they’re not alone — that there are people who understand what they’re going through. Remember that your reader is struggling in some way, or else they wouldn’t be looking at your content. They need kindness and caring, not shame and blame.
People living with mental health disorders and their family members may have increased sensitivity to certain topics or images. Common triggers include discussions or depictions of:
When you must write about these topics, avoid vivid descriptions. Maintain a clinical tone and avoid words that evoke violent images. Remember, your goal as a mental health writer is to encourage readers to reach out for help, not to retraumatize them.
Are You Looking for Skilled Mental Health Writers for Your Blogs?
Digital marketing trends come and go, but blogs have remained an effective marketing strategy for almost three decades. Mental health blogs are where readers engage with a company’s services and learn more about the condition they or a loved one is living with. Work with some of the best mental health writers in the industry and learn about the incredible blogging services at Write Collective today.