Give Me Five: Paul Dodsley & Leah Wareham

Paul Dodsley (Student Health Development Officer) and Leah Wareham (Student Health and Wellbeing Project Officer) both run Healthy NTU, Nottingham Trent University’s Health Promotion programme within the Student Support Services. They help students learn new ways to look after their wellbeing through lots of different ways including running training sessions, events and activities throughout the academic year.

They’ve been working with Mindapples since September last year and are one of seven university partners involved in the Mindapples for Students pilot. We chatted to Paul and Leah about their minds, the importance of talking about mental health and wellbeing, photography, biking, nature and of course CAKE!

1. Tell us about your mind. What’s it like up there?

(Paul) I’d like to say my mind is like a bike (I’m a very keen mountain biker)…It runs really well most of the time and can be pretty rad. I do need to pay attention looking after it so it runs so well. However sometimes I lose my direction but use the people around me to get back on track.

(Leah) I’m a big overthinker so doing things to keep my stress-levels low is a must! As long as I’m doing things to look after my mind regularly everything is all good, but I equally try not to beat myself up if I have an off day, it’s totally normal!

2. Why do you think we need to talk about mental health and wellbeing?

Paul) I would say that talking makes all the difference. There is no shame in opening up about how you feel. Surround yourself with people who make you happy. Be the captain of your ship but remember a ship runs much better with a crew. Your friends and family is your crew who help to keep you out of choppy waters or from even drowning. You can’t navigate through life on your own so be open, draw on your crew and remember a problem shared is a problem halved. I have experienced suicidal thoughts and I’ve had times when I felt as though I was drowning. I can honestly say the support you get from your crew (family and friends) can be life saving.

(Leah) Like Paul I find talking about how I’m feeling with friends is so important. When I’m really struggling with my mental health it’s reaching out and talking that pulls me out of a dark place. I also think that talking about mental health openly (especially through public platforms like blogs or social media) can really help others feel less alone and encourage people to open up and reach out for support too.

3. What’s your advice for getting people talking about mental health and wellbeing?

(Leah) I always think there have been times for me when I’ve said I’m fine when deep down I’m struggling. So my advice for if you ask that question to a friend and they respond with ‘I’m fine’ and your gut instinct is telling you otherwise, ask them again saying something like ‘how are you really feeling’ or ‘are you sure you’re okay’. Empathy also makes a massive difference, we sometimes feel like we have to fix our friends problems when they open up to us but just being there and listening can be really impactful.

(Paul) I would say don’t be afraid to talk…it can make all the difference. Opening up to someone you trust, someone who cares about you and will be there for you. Never be afraid to let the tears out either. Remember a problem shared is a problem halved. You will feel much better. Please don’t put it off…it does take strength to open up about your feelings but I can guarantee it will make all the difference. If a person is opening up to you just listen, show empathy and try not to fix their problem be a supporter. Go for a cuppa and get chatting and feel the difference.

4. How have you used Mindapples in your work or your organisation?

Here at NTU we’ve incorporated Mindapples into every aspect of the Health Promotion we do. From the Feed Your Mind workshops and utilising the fantastic tip sheets through to promoting everyday wellbeing tips with the 50 Ways campaign and promoting the app. Helping students find new ways to look after their wellbeing is a number one priority for us.

5. What do you do that’s good for your mind? What are your “mindapples”?

(Paul) Cake, I love cake…I meet with friends to have cake, give me the opportunity to chat to friends. The main thing for me though is being at the top of a mountain with my mountain bike. I get a sense of freedom. I can lose myself with nature and I get such a kick from it. It’s also rewarding to eat cake after a good mountain bike ride.

(Leah) For me I love getting outside and into nature, so I love exploring new places to go on a nice walk. I also love meeting up and having a laugh with my friends, cooking and spending time working on my photography work. I’ve also recently found a love for exercising and now absolutely love hula hooping which is my go to at the moment.

Thanks Paul and Leah! x

Man with wearing grey t shirt and black glasses Blonde woman wearing a purple coat, standing in front of green and white tiled wall.