TV and Radio

Weekend Q&A: Paulo Ross on weekends in the Mournes, mental health and radio as a distraction for people

Paulo Ross (32) is co-host of Cool FM's breakfast show and an ambassador for the mental health charity AWARE

Jane Hardy

Paulo Ross loves getting outdoors

How do you unwind at the weekend?

I'd be big into the outdoors and most weekends I hike in the Mournes. It boosts my mental health and there's a sort of contentment before, during and after. There's almost no phone connection in the mountains so you're at a distance from stress. I wanted to be a geography teacher and did radio as a hobby but was told I should consider it as a job. When I leave the studio, I care for my mother, Fatima, who has complex mental health issues. I've done this most days for seven years. We walk in the park or swim in the sea, which she finds relaxing. We try Bangor or Helen's Bay or Ballyhornan Beach, depending on the waves. My time alone in nature builds resilience and prevents the domino effect that can occur in a family through mental illness.

What do you recall most about growing up?

I grew up in Co Down, and remember mum and dad taking my younger brother and me on days out to the amusements at Newcastle. We went to the Tropicana pool. We had a caravan on Murlough beach. There was ice cream and I spent lots of summers going down the pool slide and trying the slippery dip in the town centre.

Do you have a must-listen radio programme or podcast?

I have to say my colleague Rebecca McKinney's great Saturday afternoon show. It's Top 40 chart music, chat, information. Or I'd dip into the podcast Diary of A CEO by Steven Bartlett. My favourite episode was with Joe Wicks, who gave real insight into his depression, yet was very positive.

Paulo says time alone in nature builds resilience and prevents the domino effect that can occur in a family through mental illness.

Is there a must-watch TV programme or Netflix?

Derry Girls - great light relief on Tuesday night. On Netflix I like Ozark, very dark and heavy about Mexican drug cartels.

Is Sunday still special?

I wouldn't be very religious but would be in favour of taking a day off to rest and switch off. Yet as a society we're uncomfortable with this. It would be nice if the shops closed one day.

Have you a favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

I turned vegetarian three years ago. Belfast caters well for us, with places like wonderful Jumon with its 100 per cent plant-based Asian food. You wouldn't know you weren't eating chicken curry.

How do you feel on Sunday about Monday morning?

I have a really cool job and look forward to doing it. I enjoy talking about world and entertainment events plus the banter with Pete Snodden and Rebecca. We provide a distraction for people.

AWARE is the depression charity for Northern Ireland. Email or visit for help and information about its support groups for people with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

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