Open Search Partner with DCC

Shining a light on mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week is a time when we focus on mental health and look at working together to create a society that protects and nurtures our mental wellbeing. At the DCC, it’s really important that our colleagues feel well and supported in the workplace, and so we offer a wide range of benefits including one-to-one conversations with our network of trained Mental Health First Aiders, free access to our online wellbeing platform Unmind, plus 24 hour-a-day access to phone and online counselling via our employee assistance programme.

We asked one of our newest Mental Health First Aiders, Lau Ciocan, to explain more about the role, and tell us why he’s such an advocate for men’s mental health.

Lau said, “I work as a Stakeholder Engagement Manager, as part of the Strategy and Regulation department of DCC, looking at engagement with non-statutory organisations as part of the wider stakeholder landscape. Outside work, I’m a passionate advocate for men’s mental health, I run the Mentoring Advocacy Network (MAN), a platform that raises awareness of men's mental health, focussing on healthy masculinities and positive male role models.”

“I’ve recently completed the DCC’s mental health first aid course, which was really insightful. Before I took the course, my education on mental health was mainly self-taught by reading, attending webinars or having conversations with specialists. But I realised it would be helpful to get a bit more formal training and learn how to support colleagues in the workplace, as well as those that engage with my external platform.”

“The mental health first aid course covered a wide range of mental health issues from suicide and anxiety to eating disorders. I found it very helpful to learn about practical tools and techniques you can use to give support at the first point of call for those facing a mental health challenge.”

“A key takeaway for me is that it's essential to acknowledge that we all have to consider our mental health, just as we do our physical health, it really is equally important. We need to be able to distinguish between good or poor mental health, which is where the nuance comes in. One day somebody can have good mental health, but if they go through a major life event, such as a bereavement or an unemployment issue, their mental health can quickly change.”

“Another insight was the common view that poor mental health is mostly about depression and anxiety, but actually it's a bit more complex than that formal, clinical diagnosis. For example, having a conflict with a colleague at work can affect somebody’s mental health, even though that could be considered as a relatively ‘minor’ event. That’s why it's so important to keep talking with colleagues and our teams, both at work and in private settings, and to raise awareness of mental health issues. It's not unusual for someone to be facing a mental health issue, and yet be unaware of it. But by having these regular conversations we can take the first step which is to identify that there is an issue, and then as a trained mental health first aider, I’m able to suggest some tools and techniques to help.”

“Outside work I run my Mentoring Advocacy Network (MAN) which I set up in May 2020, during the first lockdown. I decided to set up this network to raise awareness of men's mental health and shape the conversation on masculinity. I’ve hosted several webinars and published numerous blog posts on various topics. And in February 2022, I launched the Mentality Podcast as a place to explore what healthy masculinity is about, but also to offer support on men's mental health.”

“From my conversations with men that engage with my platform and content, they’ve said that it offers them a different perspective of what it means to be a man, a version that they can be at peace with, while at the same time allowing them to express fully themselves and their emotions.”

“Recently I've been delighted but also humbled to personally to be shortlisted for the ‘Future Leader Award’, part of the Inside Out Awards 2023, and MAN has also been shortlisted as the ‘Best Men's Health Initiative’, in the same group of awards.”

“I’ve been at the DCC for just under a year now, and I think it’s a great place to work in terms of awareness of mental health and it really does offer a wide range of wellbeing support. I’m proud to be a fully trained mental health first aider and I look forward to being able to offer support, guidance and signposting to support the wellbeing my colleagues.”

If you want to find out more about Lau’s MAN platform for men’s mental health check out his website or follow him on social media on Twitter and LinkedIn.