In this page:

    Why do we need a style guide?

    MindWell provides a gateway or ‘portal’ for any adults in Leeds, including GPs and other professionals, to get quick, easy and direct access to up-to-date mental health information.

    We (MindWell) are not one organisation, but a collection of services, sources of support, information and guidance from across Leeds. 

    It’s important that we (and the resources that we bring together) are consistent in what we say and how we say it.  

    We have created this guide to make sure we speak to our audience with one voice. Following these guidelines also helps us create content that’s accessible, inclusive and easier to read.

    When writing for our audience, all content should follow these guidelines.

    Our content strategy

    This is the one thing we need all our content to achieve. It’s what we should be aiming for whenever we write or plan new content. We developed our Core strategy statement in a workshop with key stakeholders in August 2015 (revised January 2020).

    We use simple, inclusive and trusted content to make mental health support and self-help guidance more easily accessible to people in Leeds, their carers and professionals.

    Whenever we’re writing new content, we should check it against this statement. If it fails in any part, it needs re-writing or removing.

    Writing for the web guidance

    Structuring our content

    MindWell is an online resource. We need to be aware that people read differently on the web than they do on paper.

    People don’t read web content word for word but scan web pages looking for keywords and specific information. 

    Web-user eye-tracking studies show that people tend to view a webpage in an ‘F’ shape pattern. They look across the top, then down the side and only read across when they find what they need.

    We can make content easier to scan by: 

    • being concise and using the right number of words. For news, blogs and articles, we aim for about 1000 words or less. We also use short simple words like “have” or “get”.
    • keeping sentences short (ideally a maximum of 25 words)
    • writing in an inverted pyramid style means putting the most important information at the top of the page and the more detailed information at the bottom
    • using meaningful sub-headings to guide readers to relevant information
    • top-loading sentences and headings 
    • keeping one idea per paragraph
    • using bulleted lists to break information down
    • avoiding capitals and presenting headings in sentence case

    Navigation and usability

    Our content should be easy to navigate on any device and also help guide people on a journey onto new areas of the site that might be helpful.

    We can make content easier to navigate by using:

    • meaningful hyperlinks which clearly describe where we are taking the user
    • navigational aids such as content lists and buttons
    • user-friendly menus that aid navigation between pages with the use of clear headings and a logical structure
    • website index – our A to Z lists all key topics to aid navigation 
    • active language and calls to action to encourage people to discover other helpful content:

    Explore our self-help guides …

    Learn more about …

    Find support for …

    Plain English guidance

    The MindWell audience is potentially anyone in Leeds who needs information to support their mental health or the mental health of someone they care about. This includes people who do not have English as their first language and people with health conditions or impairments.

    Our content needs to communicate in a way that most people will understand.

    Guidance given by the Plain English Campaign helps us write more clearly and effectively for our audience.

    Everyday English

    Using simple, commonly used, everyday English is more accessible and creates a friendly informal style. A list of words to avoid and their alternatives is given here:

    ✔ aboutX regarding
    ✔ aboutX approximately
    ✔usuallyX normally
    ✔ tellX advise
    ✔ useX utilise
    ✔ next toX adjacent
    ✔ helpX assist
    ✔ extraX additional
    ✔ beforeX prior to
    ✔ ifX in the event of
    ✔ startX commence
    ✔ make sureX ensure
    ✔ endX terminate
    ✔ soX consequently
    ✔ more thanX in excess of
    ✔ forX in respect of
    ✔ detailsX particulars
    ✔ a yearX per annum
    ✔ peopleX persons
    ✔ if you wantX should you wish
    ✔ask forX seek
    ✔call or phoneX ring, dial or telephone
    ✔ “for a long time” or
    “does not go away”
    X chronic
    ✔ for example, such as, like, includingX eg
    ✔ that is or that meansX ie
    ✔ and so onX etc

    We speak in everyday English but slang, which may not be understood by all of our audience, should be avoided: 

    ✔ I feel like I can’t cope

    X I feel rubbish

    Avoid Latin, foreign language phrases and legal terms. GOV.UK gives more guidance about words to avoid.

    Short sentences

    Sentences should be kept short (ideally a maximum 25 words) but do not all need to be the same length. Mix short sentences with longer ones.

    “You” and “we”

    Using the terms ‘you’ and ‘we’ feels more conversational and personal and helps to establish a relationship with the site user.  We write as if we’re talking to the user one-to-one.

    Lists and bullets 

    Bullet points can be used to split up chunks of information. We try to keep to a maximum of 6 items of roughly the same size.

    1. Lists with a lead-in line 

    The lead-in line finishes with a colon and each bullet makes sense running on from the lead-in line. Bullet points start in lower case and end with no punctuation (including the last point). Avoid ending bullets with “and” and “or”.

    MindWell provides access to:

    • clear information about support and services available in Leeds
    • help for what to do in a crisis or mental health emergency
    • general information about a range of common mental health problems
    • self-help tools and materials, online and mobile apps
    • resources for GPs and other professionals

    2. Full sentence lists

    Bullet points are full sentences starting with capital letters and ending in full stops. These lists do not have a lead-in line.

    Self-care goals

    • Keep to a regular routine, getting up and going to bed at the same time.
    • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet.
    • Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
    • Get outside for some sunlight and exercise.

    3. Numbered lists

    These are helpful to guide people through a process. Each bullet starts with a capital and ends with full stops. These lists do not have a lead-in line.

    How to slow your breathing down

    1. Sit comfortably in a chair if possible. 

    2. Put your feet flat on the floor. 

    3. Shoulders down and jaw loose. Back straight. 

    4. Loosen clothes around your stomach area if convenient. 

    5. Breathe in through your nose rather than your mouth. 

    6. Breathe in to count of two, hold for a second and then breathe out to count of four. Breathe out smoothly and steadily. 

    7. Repeat twice and then relax and carry on with whatever you were doing. 

    Active voice

    Using the active voice makes sentences much clearer, punchier and straight-forward. 

    In an active sentence, the subject is doing the action, for example: 

    ✔ I (subject) wrote (verb) this guide (object).

    ✔ You (subject) may need (verb) help (object).

    In a passive sentence, you put the action before the subject, for example: 

    X The guide (object) was written (verb) by me (subject).
    X Help (object) might be needed (verb) by you (subject). 

    As you can see by using the passive verb, in these examples, extra words (‘was’ and ‘by’) need to be used making the sentences very wordy and formal.

    Of course there may be a few occasions when the passive verb may be more appropriate, for example, when you cannot or do not want to say who the doer is or when it just sounds better, for example:

    ✔ A support group has been set up in Bramley.

    Direct instructions

    The phrases ‘you should…’ or ‘would you mind…’ are commonly used when giving instructions. We use active commands instead. They are the fastest and the most direct way of giving someone an instruction, for example:

    ✔ Give us a call 

     Join a group 

    ✔ Contact us


    A nominalisation is a name given to something that isn’t a physical object or being, such as an emotion or process. Normalisations are formed from verbs:

    Verb Nominalisation

    ✔ discuss X discussion

    ✔ complete X completion

     introduce X introduction

    Like using the passive voice, too many normalisations can make sentences wordy and sound formal and bureaucratic:

    X The group had a discussion about support available in Leeds.

    ✔ The group discussed support available in Leeds.


    Jargon isn’t just strings of mysterious letters like IAPT or BAME, it’s any word or phrase with a specialised meaning within mental health and healthcare services. 

    If you’ve been involved in mental health services for a while, it’s easy to forget a time when ‘social prescribing’ or ‘care pathways’ meant very little to you.

    It’s likely that many users of MindWell will have limited or no familiarity with such jargon. In order to make meanings clear for all our users it’s important to avoid confusing terms and explain any jargon we do use.

    While the main sections of the site have a broad audience the Professionals section of MindWell provides information for a specialist audience of GPs and other professionals. Therefore it’s appropriate to use jargon and vocabulary commonly used by this audience within this section.

    Clichés and figurative language

    Clichés are phrases or sayings which have become so overused that they have lost any real meaning. Avoid phrases such as: 

    X going forward

    X thinking outside the box

    X elephant in the room

    X pushing the envelope

    X blue-sky thinking

    X a perfect storm

    Figurative language (such as metaphors and similes) uses abstract ideas to convey a particular meaning and is often used in literature. It can cause confusion for people who do not have English as their first language or people with learning disabilities. We avoid phrases which cannot be understood literally such as: 

    X clear as mud

    X raining cats and dogs

    We do not use loss as a euphemism for death unless we are talking about feelings of loss or grieving. We say ‘died’ instead of ‘passed away’ or ‘deceased’.

    Abbreviations and acronyms 

    If using an acronym, we spell it out in full the first time, with the abbreviation in brackets afterwards. Like this:

    ✔ The largest provider is Leeds Mental Wellbeing Service (LMWS).

    You can use the shortened version from that point on, safe in the knowledge that no one’s feeling lost:

     LMWS supports people aged 17 and over with common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks and stress.

    Do not use full stops in abbreviations, or spaces between initials, for example:


    X I.A.P.T or I A P T


    We use and’ rather than ‘&’ unless it is part of a name eg A&E.

    Formatting and punctuation

    Titles, sub-headings and page structure

    Titles should be in sentence case (capitalise the first letter only). 

    Caring for someone

    X Caring For Someone

    They should never be underlined. Underlining should only be used on clickable links. 

    Page titles should:

    • be 65 characters or less
    • be unique, clear and informative
    • be front-loaded and optimised for search
    • use a colon to break up longer titles
    • not contain dashes or slashes
    • not have a full stop at the end
    • not use acronyms unless they are well-known, like EU

    Titles on MindWell must be descriptive so that users know which page they are on. Duplicate titles can confuse users. A title should make sense by itself, for example, ‘8 tips to cope with stress’ has more context than just ‘8 tips’. They also need to have keywords that show up in search results.

    We break up content with descriptive sub-headings. Sub-headings should be front-loaded and active. The text should still make sense without the sub-headings. Paragraphs should have no more than 5 sentences and include keywords to boost search rankings.

    It is important to always use heading levels. Screen readers move around pages using headings so missing one can be confusing. Screen readers can not recognise a header highlighted with just bold.

    Capital letters

    A tendency towards lower case is more friendly and less formal. It also makes content quicker and easier to read. Generally, we use lower case wherever possible.

    X Third Sector organisation

    ✔ third sector organisation

    However, proper nouns (for example, names of organisations, people, services and buildings) should be in uppercase, for example, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Other exceptions are listed in the GOV.UK style guide capitalisation list

    We do not write words or phrases in capital letters as this makes content more difficult to read.

    Headings should use sentence case (only capitalise the first letter of the first word – like you would in a sentence).


    We avoid using dashes to indicate a pause too often as they can cause problems for screen readers. We use commas or write shorter sentences instead.

    We use ‘to’ instead of dashes in ranges of time, date and numbers.

     4.30pm to 7.30pm

     Monday to Friday


    X Monday-Friday


    We always write the date in this format: 

    19 March 2016

     Wednesday 19 March 2016

    Do not write dates in any other format such as: 

    X 19th March 2016, March 19 2016, 14/02/2016 or 02/14/16


    We use numerals including 1 to 9. People find numerals easier to read and they scan for them.

    ✔ 1 support group

    ✔ 5 support groups

    ✔ 10 support groups

    For numbers over 999, use a comma for clarity, for example, 2,000.

    For numbers less than 1, use 0 before the decimal point, for example, 0.45.

    It’s ok to use numbers at the start of a sentence (as long as it’s not confusing), in lists and in headings.

    ✔ 5 new dementia support groups to be set up in Leeds

    ✔ 8 tips for winter wellbeing 

    For sums of money and units of measurement always use numerals.

    ✔ £5.50, 3%, 6 metres, 9.8 kilograms, 2 tonnes

    However, we do spell out ‘one’ when it means ‘a’ or to avoid repeating a word.

    ✔ There are 3 different peer support groups. You can decide which is the best one for you.

    We use ‘one’ in phrases like where numerals would look strange: 

    ✔ one or the other

    ✔ one of the most popular 

    ✔ one at a time

    one or two of them

    We spell out common fractions like one-half and use a % sign for percentages: 50%.

    Ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd and so on)

    We use numerals with letter suffixes for ordinal numbers (including 1st and 2nd) when we are talking about dates, quantities and things in a list or sequence. This makes content easier to scan.

    We do not use ordinal numbers in phrases like:

    first aid

    first time

    first visit 

    secondhand smoke

    X second opinion


    We link dates and periods of times with the linking word ‘to’ rather than use dashes as this works better on screen readers.

    We always write the time in this format: 

    ✔ 7am to 6.30pm or 8am to 10.30am

    Do not write times in any other format such as: 

    X 7.00-18.30

    8:00hrs to 16:30hrs 


    Show periods of time as: 

    ✔ 19 to 21 March

    19 March-21 April

    Years should be written in this format: 

     2016 to 2017

    X  2016-2017

    Telephone numbers and email addresses

    We present contact information in the following format.

    Call 0800 657 767

    Helpline open: Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.30pm


    We write descriptive links to webchat and email:

    Talk by webchat

    Get help by email

    We do not use the abbreviations “tel” and “mob” as they can cause problems for screen readers.

    We add a space between city and local exchange in telephone numbers: 0800 657 767.


    We avoid hyphens unless they make the meaning of a sentence clearer.

    ✔ up-to-date resources

    ✔ part-time course


    a three-year-old child 


    Do not use hyphens if the compound involves a word ending in ‘-ly’, for example, ‘rapidly expanding’ has no hyphen.

    Do not use hyphens in the following common words: 

     online, email, website, wellbeing


    Italics should be used with discretion. Using italics to highlight blocks of text can make content difficult to read. 

    We do use italics for the names of publications.


    We use bold sparingly. It can make it difficult for the site user to know which parts of the content to focus on.

    It can be used for technical instructions but we generally avoid using it for emphasis. To create emphasis we:

    • front-load sentences
    • use headings
    • use bullet points

    Quotation marks

    We generally use double quotes:

    • when quoting another source or person
    • for a partial quote
    • for unusual or colloquial terms 

     People attending a mental health awareness course said the experience was “extremely helpful”.

     John said: “I was apprehensive about attending a stress management course but it has changed the way I think and feel.” 

    If the end of the quote falls at the end of a sentence, the full stop or comma should come before the closing quote, as in the example above. 

    We use single quotes for:

    • quotes within quotes
    • headlines
    • captions
    • large-type quotes


    A contraction is a word made by shortening and combining two words. For example, “we will” is often shortened to “we’ll”.

    Often contractions make content friendlier and easier to read. We use contractions like it’s, you’ll, we’ll, you’re and what’s. 

    We do not use negative contractions like “can’t” and “don’t”. When we’re telling users not to do something we use “Can not” and “Do not”. Negative contractions can be hard to read.

    We also avoid “should’ve”, “could’ve”, “would’ve” and “they’ve”. These can also be hard to read.

    We do not use contractions in URLs (web addresses) as they can be unclear and hard to type and share. 

    If we can, we also avoid using contractions in page titles. 

    Full stops 

    We do not use full stops in headings, buttons and action links.


    We make links that are active, specific and concise.

    Links should clearly describe where we are taking the user. Where possible, we use some of the same words as the title of the page we’re linking to so the user knows what to expect.

    We do not use link text such as “click here” or wording that would not make sense when read out of context. Screen readers can move between links without reading the surrounding text. 

    X signs

     signs of stress

    find out more

     find support in Leeds

    Inclusive language and consistent naming

    We create consistency across the site by always writing the following words, names and terms in the same way. Using these naming conventions also makes sure our content is easy-to-read, respectful and inclusive.

    We use positive language when talking about disabilities and health conditions and champion the social model of disability.

    We do not say:

    • afflicted by
    • suffering from
    • sufferer 
    • victim of 

    MindWell glossary

    ✔ Alzheimer’s disease
    X Alzheimer’s Disease
    ✔ antenatal
    X ante-natal
    ✔ blind people
    ✔people with sight loss
    ✔people with visual impairments 
    ✔blind and partially sighted people
    X ‘the blind’
    ✔ call 
    ✔ phone
    X ring
    X dial
    ✔ carers are people such as family, friends or neighbours who look after someone they know (the term care workers should be used for people who
    are paid to look after someone as part of their job)
    ✔ family carers
    X Carers (do not use a capital c for carers)
    ✔ coronavirus: coronavirus (COVID-19) when used for first time
    X Coronavirus
    ✔ dementia
    ✔ people with dementia or living with dementia
    X senile dementia
    X a ‘dementia sufferer’ or ‘victims of dementia’
    ✔ deaf people
    ✔ Deaf people (people who communicate in
    British Sign Language as their first language)
    ✔ hearing loss
    ✔ deafness (prefer hearing loss)
    ✔ person with a hearing impairment
    X ‘the deaf’
    ✔ people with diabetes
    X diabetic person
    diedX passed away
    X deceased
    ✔ disabled people
    ✔people living with a disability
    ✔wheelchair user
    X (the) disabled
    X confined to a wheelchair
    X (the) handicapped
    X wheelchair-bound
    ✔ women, children or men experiencingdomestic violence✔survivors of domestic violence
    X ‘victims of domestic violence’
    ✔ drug use
    X drug abuse or misuse
    X e-mail
    ✔ firefighter
    X fireman
    ✔ gay people (the word ‘gay’ should only be used as an adjective)
    ✔ gay (adjective)
    ✔ gay men/man
    ✔ lesbian
    ✔ bisexual 
    ✔ men who have sex with men
    ✔ LGBT (the meaning is well known enough to use without explaining each time)
    X ‘gays and lesbians’
    ✔ gender reassignment
    X ‘sex change’
    ✔ GPs
    ✔ A GP, The GP (not all users will have a regular GP
    and use of ‘A’ emphasises that they should get help
    no matter which GP they see)
    X doctors or GP’s
    X your GP (unless word ‘your’ is needed to suggest user’s own GP surgery)
    ✔ GP surgeryX GP practice (unless writing for healthcare staff)
    ✔ healthcareX Healthcare
    X health care
    ✔ people who are homelessX the homeless
    X homeless people
    ✔ learning disabilities and people with
    learning disabilities
    X Learning Disabilities, PLD or LD
    X mentally handicapped
    ✔ mental health
    X Mental Health
    ✔ ‘people with, experiencing, struggling or living with mental health :
    X ‘victims of’, ‘suffering from’ or ‘afflicted by’ mental health problems
    X mentally ill
    X disease
    X mental health disorder
    ✔ mental ill healthX mental illness
    X mentally ill
    ✔ the NHS website
    ✔ NHS 111 online
    ✔ call 111
    X NHS111
    ✔ older people or specify an age range if possible such as over 65s, over 80s
    X ‘the elderly’ or elderly people
    ✔ ok
    X  okay
    X on-line
    ✔ people (our preference)
    ✔patients and people who use services/service users (if in the content of a particular service and if using the word ‘people’ alone would be confusing)
    X persons 
    X citizens
    X peri-natal
    X policeman
    ✔ safer (as in safer drinking or safer sex)X safe (do not say safe drinking or safe sex)
    ✔ died by suicide
    X committed suicide
    ✔ Talking therapies (or treatments)
    X Talking Therapies
    ✔ transgender, trans – use transgender the first time, thereafter trans, and only as an adjective: transgender person, trans person
    X ‘transgendered person’ or ‘a transgender’
    X web-page or web page
    X web-site or web site
    ✔ wellbeing
    X well being or well-being

    Gender neutral language

    We make content gender neutral as much as possible.  We avoid masculine and feminine pronouns and never say “his” to include men and women:

    X A GP needs to support his patients with mental health problems.

     GPs need to support their patients with mental health problems.

    Our content uses ‘you’ where appropriate and sometimes “they”, “their” or “them” unless this would be confusing.

    There is more guidance about inclusive language in the NHS style guide.

    Tone of voice guidance

    What is tone of voice?

    Tone of voice is the way we speak to users of the site. It’s in the words we use across the site – every paragraph, heading and interaction. It’s anywhere and everywhere. 

    MindWell has one voice that runs through all its content – reflecting its aims and target audiences. But every person who visits the site is different. They will have their own needs, which means our voice must take on different tones in different contexts. 

    Tone of voice is always informed by the site’s core strategy statement.

    Our voice and 7 values

    We chose 7 values to describe the way we want to talk to our audience. These were created in a series of workshops with people involved in mental health services in Leeds (including people working in services and members of the public) held in January 2016. 

    We’ve created examples for each of the values.

    1. Helpful, warm, informal and down-to-earth without being too casual

    We support local people to find the right mental health support and guidance. We don’t want to put up any barriers so we communicate in a warm, informal and down-to-earth style that makes people feel at ease, without being patronising or too casual. 

    “If you’re finding it hard to cope and need help now – you can speak to someone who understands how you’re feeling. There are a number of helplines you can call with people who want to listen.” 

    2. Expert, skilled, professional, experienced and knowledgeable, without being cold

    We’re experts in mental health and we speak with authority. We use our knowledge and experience to provide our audience with a voice they can rely on, trust and take advice from. We must not use jargon or clinical terms that they may find confusing. 

    “Talking therapies can help you deal with negative thoughts and feelings. Talking through your problems with someone who is trained to listen can help you make positive changes – and you don’t have to be sent by your GP.”

    3. Responsible, simple, straightforward, informed, clear and accessible without being detached 

    We speak to everyone in Leeds, including those who don’t have English as their first language. We use plain English to be as clear as we can. But we’re also careful not to sound like we’re not engaged or don’t care. 

    “Most of us go through tough times at some point in our lives. If you’re struggling, there are lots of places to get help and support in Leeds. We can help find the right place for you.”

    4. Ethical, accepting, respectful, understanding, reliable and supportive without being emotional

    We support people with different needs. We don’t use labels and treat people as individuals. We use language that makes people feel supported and creates a place that is both inclusive and understanding. 

    “Talking about mental health can be hard. You may feel scared and confused about how to talk about it at work. You’re not alone. Taking a few small, simple steps can help you look after yourself and make your workplace better.”

    5. Caring, inviting, welcoming, kindly, and friendly without being playful or light-hearted

    We want our audience to feel that MindWell is a place they can go to and keep coming back to. We want people to be put at their ease about what is potentially a very sensitive subject, without making light of their problems.

    “We know how hard it can be sometimes. We are here to help you.” 

    6. Focused, purposeful, meaningful and consistent without being slick 

    We are made up of many different services, groups and third sector organisations for mental health. We must remain consistent with our information and how we present it. 

    “You don’t need to see your GP to come and talk to someone. Everyone is welcome.” 

    7. Inclusive, equal and social without being loud and bold

    Our tone should encourage everyone to feel valued and safe. 

    “Feeling supported to express your views and wishes is important. Someone who can help you make your voice heard is called an advocate. If you want to find out more about advocacy services in Leeds, we’ve listed them below.”

    How we make our content accessible for screen readers

    We are committed to making our content fully accessible to screen readers, to do this we:

    • write in short, clear sentences and paragraphs.
    • avoid using unnecessarily complex words and phrases
    • add heading levels to all our sub-headings
    • create webpages with a logical navigation and reading order and that can be fully navigated using the keyboard 
    • use descriptive and informative page titles
    • do not use abbreviations such as etc, ie, eg, tel and mob
    • present ranges of dates and times with the word “to” inside of a dash
    • provide concise and meaningful alternative text to non-decorative images and icons (for decorative images, we leave the alt text field blank)
    • provide alternative text descriptions underneath diagrams and infographics
    • provide transcripts and captions on video content
    • create instructions and action buttons that make sense out of context and don’t rely on sensory information like colour or sound
    • do not use colour or position as the only way of conveying content or distinguishing visual elements
    • make sure our text and images of text have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1
    • make link text meaningful so that it describes what the reader should expect to find when they click it, for example, ‘Read more about support in Leeds’, not ‘Click to read more’.
    • do not write out web addresses or URLs 


    We avoid creating pdfs. Instead we create html content. PDFs cause difficulties with accessibility, give people a poorer experience on mobile and are more difficult to edit and keep up-to-date.

    MindWell does offer some pdfs where there is a clear user need for them. Printable pdfs are useful for healthcare practitioners and other professionals supporting people’s mental health, for example. We also create printable pdfs to share with people who are digitally excluded. It’s our intention, as far as possible, to make our pdfs accessible and provide html or alternative text descriptions. 

    We name pdfs in this format: descriptive name, PDF, file size in MB or KB, for example, “vicious cycle of anxiety (PDF, 400KB).

    Writing for different audiences

    It’s important to think about how we can appeal to the right section of our audience. This includes writing for people looking for help, carers, professionals or the public.  

    Depending on what we’re writing, we emphasise different aspects of our voice (‘tones’) – so a ‘Contact us’ page sounds different to some advice on staying well – but they both still sound like us.


    It’s important to think about who we are writing for before we begin. We’ve created a series of personas that represent some of the site’s different audiences and bring them to life.  

    They give us design targets by providing insight into users’ needs, questions and motivations. Personas also give us an idea about how people might start interacting with MindWell and go on a meaningful, successful journey.

    Personas help us plan and create content for MindWell. They are a benchmark against which we can test assumptions about how the site works and the words we use. 

    Read a summary for each of our personas below. 

    Sam, volunteer support worker

    Sam sees a host of different people of all ages. His clients are dealing with complex emotions, stress, sleeping problems,  money worries and housing issues.

    Sam needs MindWell to provide:

    • signposting information from one place, so he can refer his clients to the most appropriate service, both wellbeing and practical support.
    • a comprehensive range of self-help and self-care resources he can share with this clients
    • regularly updated information so he can keep up with any new developments

    Irene, caring for her parents

    Irene hasn’t previously thought of herself as a carer. But with her father getting more frail she’s had to reduce her hours at work so she can spend more time supporting her parents. Life already felt busy enough with her (sometimes challenging) job, home life, and trying to spend time with her children who are both taking important exams.

    Irene needs to:

    • recognise/identify herself as a carer.
    • know what support exists for her parents and how she can access it
    • understand that the situation she finds herself in (caught between her own family and her parents) is common
    • appreciate that she needs support too, otherwise her own mental health may be impacted

    Bob, concerned about a friend

    Despite having “been there, done that” Bob is at a loss to know how to speak to his friend. He can see his mate is struggling to readjust to life outside prison, and is using alcohol to deal with his depression. Bob needs a way in, an icebreaker to get the conversation started and to potentially share his story.

    Bob needs to:

    • realise there is support and information available to help him to support his friend
    • access advice about how to start a conversation with his friend so he has the confidence to talk to him
    • find information about support available for coping with depression and alcohol dependency, including peer support and counselling

    Simone, feeling anxious

    Simone normally feels very much in control of her life, but suddenly things which she normally takes in her stride are getting the better of her. She feels anxious about fitting everything in and has started to wake up early and worry. To help she’s bought a book on mindfulness and is looking for other help.

    Simone needs to:

    • recognise that MindWell offers a range of resources relevant to her needs
    • feel welcomed by the site and reassured that what she’s feeling is “normal” and experienced by many people
    • access a range of information and tools (including self-help) to manage her anxiety

    Alisa, health professional – GP

    Alisa is hugely aware of the mental health needs within her practice’s area and is constantly trying to increase her understanding of them in every which way she can. She’s been highly supportive of the idea of a mental health hub for Leeds from day one and can’t wait for it to be live.

    Alisa needs to:

    • be confident in MindWell as a credible source of information and be able to rely on it to provide up-to-date information each day at work
    • use a comprehensive source of information (including new information and updates) and geo-specific opportunities for her patients.
    • a card advertising MindWell to give to her patients, and posters to display in her surgery

    Julia, human resources (HR) manager

    FirstDirect has recently signed up to become a Mindful Employer and Julia is in charge of the team. She’s really keen to identify as many resources as possible which can be used to support any of the substantial Leeds-based team. The Mindful Employer team has recommended she should take a look at the new information site.

    Julia needs to be:

    • confident in understanding a range of mental health problems and how they might present at work
    • plugged into different interventions and be able to discern which is appropriate for individuals needing support with their mental health
    • able to find helpful tips and examples which make this real for her

    Majid, someone in crisis

    Intense academic pressure and social isolation have left Majid struggling to sleep, function, and study is out of the question. Now the news his visa may not be renewed and he may have to return to Pakistan without completing his PhD has pushed him to breaking point. He feels desperate and alone.

    Majid needs to:

    • find the strength to get support for his immediate situation; both emotional support for how he’s feeling right now and practical help with his visa 
    • accept how the various pressures he’s under have been affecting his mental health
    • access counselling to support him and learn some self-help skills to help him manage
    • access peer support to help reduce his feelings of isolation

    Chelsea, needing support for depression 

    Despite her tough circumstances Chelsea is entrepreneurial, and desperately wants to go back to college and make something of her life. What’s holding her back is depression and anxiety. Since having her daughter she’s really struggled and knows she can’t start before she’s sought some help.

    Chelsea needs to:

    • access MindWell on her smartphone
    • access appropriate support for her postnatal depression
    • find support and encouragement to enable her to go to college, and continuing support while she is studying.

    Tom, someone needing help

    Tom’s emotional wellbeing has been affected by problems with his physical health. He has recently been through three lots of treatment. He can’t drive, walk more than a short distance and needs to sleep in the afternoon. Feeling old before his time has seriously knocked his confidence and he’s feeling really down.

    Tom needs to:

    • recognise that MindWell has a range of information and tools which can help him
    • find the right support, advice and tools to help him recognise and manage his symptoms
    • get access to peer support so that he can connect with people who are experiencing the same issues and feel less isolated

    Harry, regular user of mental health services

    Harry’s wife instinctively understood his mental health needs and helped him to self-manage. The shock of her death and absence are stretching his coping abilities to the limit. His GP, support worker and a bereavement counsellor are helping him through this difficult time, as is Mind’s peer support platform which he’s been supported in learning to use.

    Harry needs:

    • someone to help provide emotional support to him in his wife’s absence
    • to find a wider support network and more social contact, beyond the occasional family visit
    • to learn coping skills now he doesn’t have his wife to rely on

    Max, new student

    Max is a first-year university student studying computer science at a university in Leeds. They moved away from home to attend university, and while excited about this new chapter in their life, they’re also feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of academic expectations, adjusting to a new environment, and being away from their support system.

    Max needs:

    • information about student wellbeing support
    • to learn coping skills for managing stress and anxiety while studying
    • help with managing finances and housing issues
    • access to local LGBTQ+ spaces and community