It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. Started 21 years ago by The Mental Health Foundation, it’s grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally.

At Carnival UK we’re focused on good mental health all year round, with our Mental Health First Aiders and Champions supporting colleagues to have a good day at CUK. Mental Health First Aiders and Champions are colleagues who’ve volunteered their time to take on the role of listening and signposting people to support when they need it. Find out more here.

Throughout the week we’re profiling some of our amazing volunteers. Today, meet Tom Taylor, Mental Health Champion.

Why did you want to become a Mental Health Champion?

Before lockdowns, many of my friends and family (some in their 90’s) had never experienced mental health difficulties. Now it has meant that wider and varying support has been needed amongst those who are closest in my life. Creativity is key! Connections and things you learn and experience at work can have drastic effects on your personal life. I want to be able to help and support those who are experiencing difficulties both in the workplace and out and provide them with the tools and support to make those tough days a bit better. Work can often be the cause or contributing factor to someone’s mental health. If you’re able to improve that in the workplace and help shift someone’s mindset into a better place, I like to think it will resonate in other aspects of their life.

Why do you feel it’s important for people to look after their own wellbeing and mental health?

Your mental health and wellbeing has the ability to affect every aspect of your life. Good mental health is more likely to enable you to have good physical health, good relationships etc, and helps you live a happy life.

How do you look after your own wellbeing and mental health to make sure you have a good day at CUK?

I exercise most mornings before I come to work, it gives me a boost for the day. I come to work full of energy and feeling fresh. I find this paramount in keeping my mental health in a good state which affects my relationships, diet etc. I aim to laugh in the office and to compliment someone every day. If someone has nice perfume/aftershave on, is wearing something nice etc tell them! I told a lady at the pay machine in the car park that she smelled nice the other day and she said it made her day. Might sound a bit odd but it cost me nothing and you could tell how chuffed she was. I’m also the first person to laugh at myself which helps!

How does your role as a Mental Health Champion support and empower colleagues to have a good day at CUK?

Spotting signs of someone having a bad day etc enables you to act. I’m new to Carnival UK so haven’t had much experience in this yet but in previous workplaces I’ve found that rather than asking if someone is okay, if you ask for their advice with something it will give them a sense of achievement when they are able to help. Could be as simple as ‘can you recommend any good restaurants’ somewhere. This conversation can then lead into a ‘how are you?’ conversation which might have been tough to initiate. Hopefully if you have built relationships with colleagues this will be easy to do.

How can we help each other to have a good day at CUK?

Show a genuine interest in your colleagues. Ask questions, if I’m not sure if someone is open to talking about their personal life, I will talk about mine and see if it’s reciprocated. Getting to know your colleagues in varying aspects will help build relationships which in turn will make you enjoy being at work more. It will help initiate those morning conversations that get the day going.

Any top tips for good mental health?

Exercise, I know it’s boring and people often hate it when you say it but it doesn’t need to be going to the gym, it could be dancing round the kitchen.

Music has an incredible power to change my mood and help me have a good day. I couldn’t imagine commuting without listening to music. It helps set me up for the day. Apologies to anyone who’s sat near me at traffic lights!

Interested in being a Mental Health First Aider? 

A Mental Health First Aider is someone who’s completed an accredited MHFA England course and is equipped with skills to lead mental health colleague conversations, alongside raising awareness, reducing stigma and discrimination, and engaging our people in positive mental wellbeing so we can all have a good day at Carnival UK. 

We also have Mental Heath Champions who have completed a Carnival UK Mental Health Awareness course and are equally committed to raising awareness, reducing stigma and discrimination, and engaging our people in positive mental wellbeing. They’re also able to help colleagues by connecting them to additional mental health support.

If you’re interested in supporting colleagues, email to find out more. 

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