“Be worth knowing, not just well-known.”

Melissa Bolton

*This is Part Three of a Four Part Series being published daily

You can read Part One:

Part Two: *

Originally on thinking of this blog post, I was so sure that I would have written something like this before that I went right through my content archive! I found a ton of posts that will be really useful in referring back to in this post; but nothing even remotely similar to everything I’m hoping that this one will be. Upon making this discovery, I started to wonder why I hadn’t written something like this before. I didn’t have to think on it for too long though, before the self-doubt and fear of judgment surrounded my head and, before I knew it, I was questioning what right I had to write a post like this. I mean, who do I think I am telling others how to do something like this?! But I’ll be honest; I just keep coming back to the fact that I’m NOT Disordered has over 1.3 million readers now and shouldn’t that count for something? So, I’m swallowing the low self-esteem, pushing away the nerves, and desperately hoping people will deem this piece to be genuinely helpful and a useful resource… Here goes nothing…

I think it’d be fair to say that it didn’t take me long in my blogging career, to recognise the power and potential that comes from networking in this industry, especially as a result of the previous tip in me always striving to better I’m NOT Disordered’s content. I mean, in all honesty; my first collaborations with YoungMinds (you can read the first one here)? I genuinely can’t remember how they came about – but I was a sectioned psychiatric hospital inpatient at the time so… I also can’t remember how I started talking to one of the senior staff – Angela Slater (who has actually written a guest post for the blog once, you can read it here – at Time To Change (but that also happened during my time in hospital) and did the training so that I could volunteer at my very first event just over one year since I started blogging (you can read the informative blog post with details of the event here, and then the post about the actual event is here)! Not being able to recall how I met Angela is kind of annoying(!) because I came to think of her as the first sort of external person to really believe in, I’m NOT Disordered and its potential – which is why we’re actually still friends over ten years later!

Working with Angela and having her support and confidence in my abilities, actually ended up turning into a really special and popular partnership with Time To Change in a more general way that resulted in numerous collaborations – particularly for their Time To Talk Day across quite a few years. I also found that the event and subsequent collaborations really bolstered my confidence in terms of meeting new people and reaching out to others to request guest posts. If I had to choose, I think my favourite three from around 2014 – 2015 were: Being Brave - A guest blog by Ian Callaghan | I'm NOT Disordered ( and 'Days worth of filming had to be cut down into 45mins' - A guest post by Becky Thompson | I'm NOT Disordered ( and ''This award just shows that the work I'm doing is making a difference" - A guest blog by Jack Wilson | I'm NOT Disordered ( I also made one of the most important and one of my absolute favourites of connections, John Lawlor! At the time (2015) he was the Chief Executive of my local mental health NHS Trust and we met through me tagging along on a radio interview, you can read  more about it: Mentally Sound interview John Lawlor | 'Ad' | I'm NOT Disordered (

Then, in September 2015 – exactly one year after being discharged from the psychiatric hospital – I was asked to give my very first speech, and it was at a Time To Change event which had been branded Story Camp. Through my collaborations with them from the event in 2014 until then, I’d connected with other staff there and so one of their Digital Officers got in touch to ask if I’d do some Consultancy work on a lot of the pre-event promotional material and press releases etc. Then, a few weeks before the actual event (which was being held in London), I was asked to give the closing speech at it! I honestly could not have been more honoured – or more terrified! At that point, I had no experience of public-speaking and with it being all the way down the country in London, it meant that I couldn’t just take my Mum or a friend to have someone there who I knew. It meant that when I got to the event and everyone seemed to know each other, I called my Mum and told her over and over that I didn’t think I could go through with it. Eventually, I got the encouragement and confidence I needed and made the speech (you can read about it and the entire event here)… I remember being so nervous that I had to rest my iPad (which contained the notes for my speech) on the lectern so that people couldn’t see my hands shaking while I was holding it!

You know, I talked earlier about Victoria Magrath and the inspiration she’s had on me and my blogging career? Well, building connections has been another area she’s impacted to be honest, because I watched her go from working with small, high street fashion stores to now collaborating with very highly regarded, designer brands such as Louis Vuitton and Armani. Seeing this huge rise in her seniority and ranking in the industry inspired me to consider the mental health version of high street stores and designer brands… Like, which organisations or people did I consider a step-up from collaborating with other charities or small companies? It felt like a really useful and creative method to look at things in a way which added to that previous tip in bettering I’m NOT Disordered’s content.

So, two other fairly powerful and influential contacts I also built relationships with around that time, were the Police Liaison Lead from my local mental health NHS Trust (who completed a Q&A Guest Post here) and an Inspector and Mental Health Lead from my local Police force (who also completed a Q&A Guest Post here). Initially, we were working together to facilitate one day of training for numerous cohorts of new recruits in the Police force, but we made such a good team that they invited me to speak, blog about (the blog post about the morning of the event is here and the afternoon post is here), and create the social media for a very huge and important event; Enhancing Multi-Agency Partnerships.

I’ll never forget when the Police’s Twitter guy asked me to film a quick video for their Twitter account and I just looked around myself – I looked at the incredible location (the Discovery Museum in Newcastle Upon Tyne), I looked to the Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird, I saw the Chief Executive of our local NHS mental health Trust, I looked to the little press area where there were several reporters and filming crew who had already interviewed me, and I felt the respect I was being shown – and I couldn’t help but feel like the entire thing was completely surreal! I couldn’t quite accept that I was in that position after all the very poor and horrible experiences with various Police Officers in the years before the specialist psychiatric hospital admission; I actually ended up writing an entire blog post about it: FROM CELLS TO CONFERENCES | MY MENTAL HEALTH RECOVERY WITH NORTHUMBRIA POLICE | I'm NOT Disordered (!

Unfortunately – and this is actually something I’ve genuinely never talked about online – there was a huge incident with someone and the Police in a mental health crisis and the Police weren’t exactly the epitome of professional, empathetic, kind, or even helpful. Their many failures led to the death of a young person, and I couldn’t bring myself to think past it in a way that would mean I could continue working with them through I’m NOT Disordered, events, and training sessions. I knew that if I were to mention them on my social media or my blog, it had the potential to open me up to a whole lot of backlashes and criticisms. I mean, by that point my blog had really taken off in terms of its popularity and I worried that if I were to collaborate with an organisation who had failed in such an enormous way, it could seriously tarnish my blog’s reputation and I wasn’t willing to risk that.

Another massive local organisation I developed a really good working relationship or connection with from around 2021, was the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS). And it’s actually another partnership where I genuinely can’t recall how it all kicked off, but I worked closely with the Service’s Communications Director and their Mental Health Lead to produce this blog post: THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WHEN YOU’RE CALLING AN AMBULANCE | IN COLLABORATION WITH NORTH EAST AMBULANCE SERVICE | I'm NOT Disordered ( I think that my favourite and most special part of the post and the rest of our work together was when I was asked to do the photoshoot! I mean, I couldn’t help but think that it was seriously a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because I thought it likely that I wouldn’t get the chance to do something like that ever again.

Standing by the Ambulances parked at my local Police Station with the NEAS Communications Director suggesting poses, the Mental Health Lead coming into the photos, and a Photographer shouting out cues, I had a similar experience to that of the Police in that it felt so surreal. I mean, to think of my sort of journey with NEAS and all the occasions where they’ve basically saved my life, and to then be stood doing a photoshoot with two incredibly important staff? Well, not only did it feel so strange, but it also felt like a huge achievement because it meant I’ve survived every instance that they’d worked hard to make sure that I came through.

Ok, so two more large organisations I’ve connected with…

In 2019, the travel company; London North Eastern Railway (LNER) actually ended up contacting me after I posted something on social media about their amazing service and they offered me some complimentary first-class tickets! Having then built a working relationship with their Communications Team, I pitched several more collaboration ideas and, in the end, we worked together on four posts:





I really loved working with LNER because I felt it really challenged my creativity because it’s an organisation that would probably easily be considered as having nothing to do with mental health in any way, shape, or form. In fairness, I can quite easily see a relevance, so it was really about trying to get that across to I’m NOT Disordered’s audience in a way that would encourage a sensation in them of becoming more insightful and empathetic.

Alongside testing my capacity for thinking up some creative ideas for angles to use in our collaboration posts, LNER was also the first organisation where I was asked to provide statistics as to the number of readers our posts had gained. With the first two having over 9,000, the company were obviously bolstered into continuing our partnership and so our third piece had over 10,000 and the fourth had around 15,000. Initially, with providing the figures being a new thing for me to have to do, I was genuinely nervous because I was convinced, they were going to reply with, “that’s not enough;” and I’d be forgotten about and left feeling insulted and insignificant. Fortunately, not only were the reader levels good enough for LNER, but I also found it to be a bit of a lesson in recognising the importance of statistics and that they could be incredibly relevant and helpful if I were to mention them in collaboration pitches and briefs, and my media kit. And lo and behold, I found that I secured more collaborations when I began referencing the statistics that they could expect from working with me/I’m NOT Disordered. Learning this – and even more over the years, has resulted in a number of posts with tips and advice, especially regarding to landing a collaboration and how it could be successful…





The final organisation I’ve built a connection with and who I’m actually most in touch with to this day, is Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne, and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) who are basically the NHS Trust responsible for all my local mental health services which varies from the Crisis Team to Psychiatric Hospitals. I actually first made a connection with them in 2015 – which I talked about earlier in this part where I mentioned their Chief Executive at the time; John Lawlor and that I met him through being asked to blog about a radio interview a mental health radio station was conducting with him.

From then, I feel that my relationship with the Trust has gone from strength to strength and has included literally around – and actually, maybe over – 20 collaborations (don’t worry; I’m not about to list them all!)! I do, however, want to tell you my two favourite posts:

The first was a Q&A with the newly appointed Chief Executive James Duncan (you can read it here). Fortunately, I’ve spent a great deal of time with James since this post and one of my most favourite bit from a chat we were having on the way to an event was when I asked him if it felt like a massive achievement to have been promoted from Deputy to CEO. He said “no” and I was like ‘well this is awkward!’ because I’d obviously expected a ‘yes,’ but then he added – and I still get goosebumps when I quote him: “the achievement for me is when I find out we’ve helped someone.” Now, to me, this is the most perfect attitude you could want from a mental health Trust Chief Executive! I mean, can you get anyone more genuine, dedicated, determined, or passionate?!

His comment really filled me with a sense of reassurance that someone like him was ‘in charge’ and in all honesty, it has really helped me for when I’ve faced the prospect of deciding whether to speak up after being treat poorly by CNTW staff. Knowing James is there – at the head of it all – brings me confidence that any recommendations made in response to a complaint won’t just be a false-promise in it being put into action and made a reality; it will be followed through, and it will truly be given the opportunity to make a real difference to other service users.

So, I think there are two big difficulties and challenges that come with networking and creating connections and relationships in your blogging career:

1.      Doubting your own worth: It can be all too easy – and incredibly understandable – to begin questioning your own skills and qualities when you see your collaborative content to be excelling and proving far more popular than posts which are completely your responsibility. It means that there’s actually been numerous times where I’ve had to remind myself of the fact that collaboration posts are pretty much guaranteed to be more popular because you should be doubling the publicity of it. It technically and fundamentally should be attracting both your own, usual audience as well as those followers of your collaboration partner.

2.     Is it ok to name drop? I debated moving this bit to the next tip because it’s actually quite relevant there too; but it was this tip about networking which inspired the thought so I thought I’d keep it all together… This challenge in connections is something which I actually personally struggle with too; and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a situational thing – there are times and places when it’s completely justified and appropriate to mention you know some by name, but there are also many other instances where it’s quite frankly rude, cocky, and a bit arrogant.

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