Mental Health Champions: How Nia Davies Is Helping To Promote Mental Wellness

Posted on

Having a more compassionate view for people that are struggling. I remember when I was depressed and anxious at medical school, on the surface it could come across as anti-social and unfriendly and I often didn’t mean for it to be this way.

As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Nia Davies.

Nia is a founder and wellbeing writer from London. She has a BSc in medical science from Imperial College and an Mst in entrepreneurship from Cambridge University. You can find out more about her venture at as well as her portfolio on

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up between London and Wales and split my time between my parents and grandparents. Living in Wales with my grandparents was fairly idyllic; they had 3 sons so I was treated like the daughter they never had. I have very fond memories of that time.

You are currently leading a social impact organization that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit about what you or your organization are trying to address?

Having left medical school during my finals due to an unhealthy lifestyle and mental health concerns, I became more interested in holistic approaches to personal wellbeing.

As someone who’s heritage is Welsh-Korean, this meant integrating Eastern and Western perspectives and finding more crossover in the intersection between mainstream and ‘alternative’ practices.

I felt that the world of CBD and the emerging science behind these plant medicines, along with their rich ceremonial and spiritual context, tied these two worlds together nicely.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

I had wanted to get into the world of startups for a long time and was exploring quite a few of the events while still in university. However, I kept pushing myself through my degree even though I knew I didn’t really want to be there anymore. Although it was a difficult time, eventually being forced to take a time out to focus on my health was the blessing in disguise that I needed to move into something else.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

I’ve had a lot of experiences along with their ups and downs since starting this journey. The lesson I’m still learning is to better balance polarities — such as enjoying putting myself out there and taking risks, whilst also being discerning and finding equal appreciation in the every-day, or generally trying to treat life more like a marathon as opposed to a series of sprints.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Yes, being in this arena has allowed me to meet many characters from all walks of life. One of the biggest benefits has been being able to widen my circle to all sorts of backgrounds and age ranges — which has given me access to greater diversity when it comes to sphere of influence.

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

I think we still struggle with a very binary approach to mental health and the human experience. This is not something that you either have or don’t have — we all have a mind that we need to take care of, in the same way that we exercise our bodies when we go to the gym. Instead of fighting the old it’s easier to focus on building the new and I think we will live through a promising paradigm shift in perspectives around mental health during our lifetime.

In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

  1. Having a more compassionate view for people that are struggling. I remember when I was depressed and anxious at medical school, on the surface it could come across as anti-social and unfriendly and I often didn’t mean for it to be this way.
  2. Having more open and honest conversations and embracing a more holistic perspective
  3. Better funding into research and development — including ending the war on drugs, better funding for the negative consequences such as homelessness, less political corruption and more transparency

What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1) Mindfulness — realizing that mindfulness and meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting and doing nothing for hours, but that it helps to meditate on the go i.e. when I become aware that I am getting lost in thought and following anxiety down the rabbit hole, disengaging by focusing on the breath. Also bringing more awareness to unhealthy coping mechanisms and channeling this energy into something else.

2) Journaling — writing down 3 things I’m grateful for in my Gratitude app every morning, and journaling away some of the overthinking, so I can form a more coherent picture and narrative.

3) Parasympathetic Activation — yoga, breathwork and giving myself permission to take time out. I love exercise like running, but it’s important to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system too

4) Supplementation — my diet isn’t always as healthy as it could be, but I try as much as possible to stick to the 80:20 rule, and take supplements such as Turmeric, CBD and Fish oils.

5) Tarot Cards — personally I love fun little rituals that bring a bit of magic back into the daily routine and I find tarot cards serve as great little prompts to help you look at an issue in a new way, or give you themes to think about.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?

Books — I love The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks as this has a very holistic view of neurology and mental health which bridges the humanities and sciences; Podcasts — I find Joe Rogan, Russell Brand, Tim Ferris and Goop both entertaining and informative, and other resources include apps on my phone like Gratitude for journaling and Moonly for daily meditations.

If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

To prioritise mental health because I think if we tackle that, then the other compassionate causes may naturally follow. And to remember that ‘selfcare is not selfish’ because we each have a responsibility to be responsible to the self, whereby all meaningful and lasting change comes from within.

How can our readers follow you online?

@niafaraway @miafordfotographie @yugenial

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Mental Health Champions: How Nia Davies Is Helping To Promote Mental Wellness was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.