From a shared vision that everyone has the right to know the skills for good mental health, for recovery and resilience.

Our Story

Positive Mental Training

In 2004, starting out with audio CDs, Dr Alastair Dobbin, a GP and Dr Sheila Ross, a health promotion specialist, teamed up to create the Positive Mental Training programme for mental health and recovery. It was developed from a Swedish Olympic Sports performance programme with a positive self-development focus, rather than a clinical illness-based approach.

It has been shown in research to build positive emotions and good psychological functioning, elements which according to Self Determination Theory underpin self-esteem and intrinsic motivation.

Now in the Feeling Good App, it is recommended for use by NHS Borders & NHS Lothian, Public Health England ‘Every Mind Matters’ campaign and is accredited by NHS Digital Apps library.

Alastair and Sheila continue to develop and research Positive Mental Training, growing its use in many fields of health & social care. The Positive Mental Training approach underpins all the modules in the Feeling Good Apps.

Alastair Says:

'I developed an interest in the mind from reading Freud as a teenager. Studying medicine, I became interested in the science of the body and so became a family doctor, but I never lost an interest in the mind. I soon realised that there was a huge burden of distress in most of my patients and I started to look for techniques that might help them.

In the late 90’s I came across a Swedish Olympic sports coach and recognised that his approach was very similar to mine, focussing on strengthening positive visualisations, rather than looking at what is going wrong. I teamed up with Sheila who, working in health promotion, also shared the same concepts of recovery and wellbeing.

We adapted the ideas of sports coaching for use in the health service and Positive Mental Training came to life. Since then scientific research has confirmed it's beneficial effects on increasing recovery in depression and anxiety, and also on helping people do well in their work, sport, home and social life.'

Sheila Says:

‘Life can be so stressful, it’s not surprising that 1 in 4 of us experience depression or anxiety at some time. I was not taught how to look after my mental health, only physical health. I’ve now learnt from developing Positive Mental Training that its possible to learn skills for emotional balance, to grow resilience and feel more positive about life.

I’m so pleased to be able to bring these skills and techniques to others and to work with all the amazing people in the NHS to help support their work. It’s exciting too to have begun working with younger people, in colleges and schools to give them the tools to develop their potential. The goal setting approach from athletics is especially applicable to finding the right path in life.’

Meet the Team

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Dr Alastair Dobbin, MB BS

Co-founder and Medical Director

After qualifying as a doctor in London, Alastair worked in Australia before coming to Edinburgh to work in General Practice. As a busy GP he was always interested in helping his emotionally distressed patients.  This led him to study the use of an elite Olympic sports psychology programme in Sweden and to develop the Positive Mental Training programme as a treatment for depression. Along with Edinburgh University, he researched into the use of relaxation and mental skills training and his interest in research continues.  He is an honorary fellow at the School of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, University of Edinburgh.

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Dr Sheila Ross, PhD

Co-founder and Managing Director

She has collaborated with Alastair on the Positive Mental Training programme, used in the Feeling Good App, since its inception. With over 35 years experience in promoting health,  she has worked in health promotion and health education and founded  a successful organic food company. She is a health psychologist and a UKCP accredited psychotherapist and embraces a public health perspective that everyone can learn the skills necessary for good mental health.

Sheila is the Operational Director of the charity arm Foundation for Positive Mental Health, which is active in research, education and training in positive mental health.

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Becky Tapper

School Liaison Officer

Becky has been teaching since 2011, gaining a Distinction in her PGCE in Secondary English in 2012 having completed her training as part of the Teach First programme. She taught in a mixed comprehensive in London for 3 years before returning to NW England to take up a Lead Practitioner role in a mixed comprehensive in Greater Manchester. As well as working as the Schools Liaison Officer for FPMH, Becky teaches English in an SEMH school part-time. Before teaching, she completed her LLB(Hons) Law with French and worked in a range of settings supporting young people, including young people at risk of offending.

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Serena Steptoe

Schools Project Officer and Evaluation lead

After graduating with first class honours in Psychology (MA) at The University of Edinburgh, Serena helped to run therapeutic activities for individuals in Psychiatric facilities, community and geriatric settings in Sri Lanka, as well as teaching English to young people. She leads evaluation research for the Feeling Good for Schools programme.  She is experienced in qualitative research, and in R, and brings her own unique personal insights from her recovery from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as a teenager.  Serena also volunteers for The Spit it Out project, an art collective that aims to empower and heal through creativity.

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Dr Pawel Orzechowski, PhD

Team and Tech Lead, CTO

Spearheading the development of the Feeling Good App, Pawel brings joyful  enthusiasm and impressive expertise from over 10 years of working in mobile app development, computer interface, user experience and business development. He is currently Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh Business School, previously being an Instructor at the award winning CodeClan and gaining a PhD from Heriot Watt University.

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Stephanie Lara Sutherland

Mobile Developer

Steph is our Mobile Developer, bringing her coding talents and creative eye for design to the Feeling Good app.  She is a language enthusiast and is passionate about the complexities of human and computer grammars, and enjoys solving problems in tech. Before switching careers to software, Steph was a teacher of French and Spanish.

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Dr Jo Gardiner, MBChB, MRCP, MRCGP

Foundation for Positive Mental Health Trustee

Jo joined the board of FPMH on its inception in 2010, bringing her positive energy & 23+ years experience as a GP & GP Trainer/ Course Organiser in Edinburgh. Using Positive Mental Training with patients for 15+ years to treat anxiety, depression, physical symptoms of stress & chronic pain, she saw the potential of Feeling Good App to help colleagues. As Leith GP Cluster lead, she created innovative ways to improve well-being & resilience both in primary care teams and the local population, now adopted throughout NHS Lothian.

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Karen Clark

Foundation for Positive Mental Health Trustee

Karen brings to the board her considerable experience in business and financial management gained from over 30 years of working with Halifax bank. She brings a valuable, non-medical, perspective along with insights into mental trauma inflicted from social disruption and war, from living in Northern Ireland during 'the troubles'.

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Mark McLauchlan

Foundation for Positive Mental Health Trustee

Mark is an experienced transformation architect. He recently joined the board and brings his considerable expertise from start-up CTO and Transformational Change Leader - helping to translate strategy into practical technology architecture and delivery plans, making complexity easy to understand. A wealth of experience from over 20 years in Financial Services, working in both large and challenger banks.

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Jonny Shackleton

Graphic Designer and Illustrator

We love Jonny's original and warm designs.  He is an experienced and talented designer and created the Feeling Good App's logo and iconic bear, which expresses in a non-gender/racial, ageless, stereotype, characteristics we can all identify with.  The bird expresses the helping hand of the app.