Many therapists recommend that their patients keep diaries, but blogging might be even better for mental health, a study suggests.
Researchers in Israel recruited 160 teenagers who had scored low on a test of social and emotional well-being, and who didn’t already blog. Participants were asked to blog about their problems for 10 weeks, using a nickname (either with comments by outsiders allowed, or disabled); to blog about anything they wished; or to keep a diary in an unshared computer file. There was also a control group.
Before and after the experiment, the teens took tests measuring their self-esteem and satisfaction with interactions with peers; and, at the end, their writing was analyzed for clues about their mental health.
By the end of the experiment, the teenagers who had blogged about their problems showed more improvement than the other groups—including those who’d kept a private diary. And, among the bloggers the greatest strides were made by those whose blogs were open to commenters. The gains remained at a two-month follow-up.
The blogs were monitored to ensure that no identifying details were revealed, and the few unsupportive comments were deleted. Given the risks of disclosure, the authors recommended that this kind of frank blogging occur only as part of a supervised treatment program…