This blog has been been running since July 2017 – 2 and 1/2 years
In that time we’ve posted 550+ blog posts and sent out 70,000+ emails to newsletter subscribers.
The blog (and newsletter which is auto-generated from the blog) is the primary communication device of Health, Counselling and Disability Services aside from our website. We flirted with FLO for a while but the blog/newsletter system is simpler.
As the blog’s chief architect and author, I’ve had quite a bit of freedom to shape the blog as I wish.
I use the blog to:
- promote the Health, Counselling and Disability Service
- tell you about programs we are running and the services we offer
- share our self-help resources
- link to useful resources that I’ve found online and in the community
- highlight wellbeing related events taking place in the university
- write articles on topics relevant to students (e.g. procrastination, mental health)
Essentially I use the blog as a source of information for students on health and wellbeing.
In 2020, I want to use the blog in a more purposeful way. I want to shift the focus (slightly) so that the blog itself is more therapeutic, that is, has a more measurable impact on student health and wellbeing.
I started thinking about this because of a number of recent reminders about the limits of ‘information’ in helping people build better lives. You can give people lots of information but it doesn’t necessarily change their health and wellbeing. It may help lay the groundwork for future improvements (i.e. improving knowledge, connecting people to relevant programs) but unless a person makes changes to:
a) their environment
b) the way they think, OR
c) their behaviour
they won’t actually experience much of a shift in their health and wellbeing.
Now there are obvious limits to how therapeutic a blog can be. It is after all, a mostly static format in which there is content that you read and then make a personal decision about whether you will act on that new knowledge in any given way. After you’ve read the content I have no way of knowing whether you have acted on it in any way and/or experienced any health or wellbeing benefit from doing so.
But what I can do this year is articulate more clearly what actions I think you should take, on the basis of the information we present.
For example, if I notify you of an upcoming Mindfulness for Academic Success program, I can be clearer about:
- who might benefit from such a program
- what it would involve
- what kinds of benefits you might get (especially powerful if I get students to explain what they got from it)
- the steps to be taken to register for the program
Or perhaps I write an article about some of the latest research on procrastination. It would be my job, in the article, to be clear about how a student could adapt the findings of that research to their own life.
To a certain extent I already do this. I try to give most of my posts a clear ‘call to action’ meaning the reader is clear about what action they should take if they want to act on the information in the post. However I will try to refine this further this year.
To start this process, I spent some time thinking about the kinds of actions I’d like students to take on the basis of our blog posts. What is it I think it would be helpful for students to do in their own life to improve their university experience? I jotted those down in a table.
I then went through and for each ‘action’, I tried to come up with some ideas for how I write or structure blog posts to increase the likelihood of students doing those things after reading the blog.
The table I generated is included below. I wouldn’t expect you to go through this table in detail. The gist is that there are modifications I can make to the type of stuff I post, as well as the content of those posts to make the blog more practically useful.
I’ll endeavour to modify the blog according to these principles over the next 12 months.
If there are changes or additions to the blog that you think would make it a more practical resource for you in your efforts to improve your productivity and/or wellbeing, please feel free to contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org