This week (14-20 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week, a national event where employers up and down the country recognise the importance of supporting positive mental health.

1 in 4 people are likely experience mental health issues, and here at the Co-op we’re no different. So we’re supporting Mental Health Awareness Week for the first time to recognise the importance of this issue to our colleagues and as part of our commitment to supporting colleague wellbeing.

The focus of the national campaign is stress and this week we’ve launched our updated Work-Related Stress policy.

Events will be happening in many parts of the Co-op so look out for more information.

We all have a role to play in taking care of ourselves and those we work with. We launched the LifeWorks app and website earlier this year as the main hub of information and support. There’s also a section in LifeWorks where we’re hosting Co-op created content and we’ll be adding to this over time.

Today we’re also releasing our first toolkit, Setting up a Mental Health Support Group, with more toolkits to come. You’ll be able to get these in LifeWorks, where there’s also a link for you to tell us your suggestions for future content.

Tomorrow we’ll look at what mental health is, how to spot the signs that someone may be struggling and how to start the conversation. We’ll be publishing this article on LifeWorks so if you’re already registered, look out for the notification.

Join the conversation! 23 Comments

  1. To those people who have mentioned loneliness. If you are experiencing loneliness, as well as contacting LifeWorks you can also reach out to the British Red Cross for support as part of our campaign to tackle loneliness. See http://www.redcross.org.uk/lonely
    ^Lara

  2. Thank goodness. I often find myself feeling so stressed and anxious that I carry Skyguard more because I feel I might have a heart attack, than have to deal with a physical assault. Of course, when I tried to access Lifeworks – it won’t recognise the code that we are told to use – which just adds to the frustration of other things that don’t work. I’ve previously tested high on the GAD scale – and definitely need something in place to help with ever increasing levels of stress and anxiety.

  3. https://www.nhs.uk/tools/pages/mood-self-assessment.aspx

    Why not embed this useful tool to monitor your mood on our HR website?

  4. This is a great initiative. I am a qualified yoga instructor and teach in my spare time. I have loads of tips and advice for people that they may find useful in the workplace and would love an opportunity to share them. I think we should move with the times and as the coop I think we should be leading in this space as a financial company and retailer to create a better environment for people to work in. A space where talking about how people are ‘feeling’ day to day is actively encouraged and an environment that encourages team work and support for anyone who is feeling stressed or vulnerable. We are great at putting our customers first but not as good at looking after and showing that our employees are valued. Working in an office and sitting all day is not the best thing for our health / mental health so perhaps movement during the day could be encouraged ?

  5. In the spirit of #OneCo-op can we get a shout out to recognise the efforts of Co-op Digital in setting up a network of mental health first aiders already.

    There are five of them who have been recently trained and who hold regular drop-in sessions and support people in that area.

    That gives everyone a good source of information and experience to draw on.

    https://digitalblog.coop.co.uk/tag/mental-health/

    • Thanks for sharing this Nicola. We have highlighted these brilliant mental health meet-ups to all colleagues before. Rachel^

    • Can I get some more infor on this??

    • @ Nicola,

      Thanks for sharing that. It might be worth asking for blogs like this, which might be of interest to other colleagues, to be shared here on colleague stories.

  6. A fund raising event just came around our office in the Arndale, always happy to contribute to these things, however given the topic is mental health awareness I find it ironic that they choose to accompany themselves with loud jarring music. I have anxiety which I was on medication for until recently. I found that the music they came round with was too much for me, I couldn’t escape it due to the volume, even by sticking my fingers in my ears, which isn’t a very dignified position to be put into when at work. I ended up having an anxiety attack that an hour later still hasn’t gone down fully.
    I know several people with different mental heath issues who cannot stand loud or unexpected noise as a result of their condition (anxiety and autism are the ones that immediately spring to mind), so would expect a mental health awareness activity to take this sort of thing into account. If it wasn’t something they were aware of before, please consider this as another way to raise awareness!

  7. Thank you all. I am pleased to see so much support. So positive.

  8. Co-op finally seems to be acting more proactively now towards mental health issues, beyond simply publishing a policy, which is great to see. The next step is to ensure line managers across the business fully support both co-op’s stance and individual employees. Sadly, I hear far too many managers dismissing stress and depression as excuses to be off work and not taking the subject seriously. Whilst there may be an element of “swinging the lead” with some this shouldn’t prevent line managers taking every case seriously; I liken it to whiplash claims following motor accidents, where there are surely many spurious claims but also many people who have their lives permanently blighted by seemingly innocuous incidents.
    I still don’t feel we have developed a culture that is supportive of colleagues with mental health issues. Once all our managers & leaders behaviours clearly demonstrate support and empathy for people who are suffering, despite the strain it may put on the business and resource, then more people will feel comfortable being honest about their experiences, seek help and ultimately improve their own and the business’ performance.
    It’s a great start co-op, but please let’s make sure recognising and supporting mental health issues are embedded in our ways of being and visible to those who need it.

    • This is the way forward for being a caring ethical company addressing the stigma of mental health where people find it difficult to open up for fear of being labelled as a nutter.

      I for one advocate support for people in need of help and this is a community wide issue that needs to be brought into the light to help people in need. and showing the way of being a caring ethical company that the COOP is. Support on all levels from company level and community. to bring hope and help

  9. It’s good to have an environment where people can talk. Maybe for people who aren’t comfortable with talking about it (it can be confusing or difficult to explain or tiring to talk about), it might help to have some basic cognitive behavioural therapy information? As CBT focuses less on why you feel or think how you think, and more on what makes you feel good, it’s a pretty good tool for several mental health illnesses.

  10. Absolutely LOVE this idea. Well done.

  11. Good to see the caring COOP addressing these issues as i have experienced these difficulties myself , it is refreshing to see a caring company help people who are affected. in the past other companies have shunned this topic and not helped people. we need to bring positive debate on this issue and help people who are struggling today. people can contribute in a positive way at the COOP. people who suffer in silence need not be alone and I for one would like to help in any way I can. positivity breeds positive attitudes and positive ways of working.

  12. Still not comfortable talking, but I need help. I don’t feel that talking will assist me- just make it worse.

    • Hi Old, Alone, Lonely. So so sorry you feel that way. I know it’s difficult to talk. There are ways Co-op can help you. Have you downloaded the LifeWorks app for some practical advice? There’s also the Employee Assistance Helpline 0800 069 8854. If you’re not comfortable in talking to them about what you’re dealing with they could point you in the direction of other organisations that might be able to help. Thanks ^Rachel

    • Hi, not exactly the same thing but when i relocated in my 20s I felt isolated & lonely being away from everything I knew. The biggest piece of advice i can give you is to find a group activity, anything, doesn’t matter what it is, just something that you could enjoy & throw yourself into it. I joined a walking group & from there, the choir they had set up. This is where i made friends & built a small but great social life. Take the plunge, you may just surprise yourself. Good luck & i hope you find happiness

      • A couple of years ago I did a course of CBT after finding that general counselling wasn’t really helping in the way I had hoped. CBT seemed to help me in really simple, practical ways and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s no silver bullet, but it helped me start thinking about my life in a more positive way by applying certain methods to negative thought patterns and behaviours. I also think exercise is one of the best methods to lift mood. I play a lot of football, cycle and swim and it helps to maintain a positive mind-set.

    • I understand, you just go into a shell and cannot find a way out and you feel alone and isolated and feel there is nowhere to turn to for help and you cannot expalin your feelings to anybody. I found it difficult opening up and it took me decades to overcome my problems. i still struggle now and i found it hard to talk to anybody. but with help I was able to find a way through the darkness and back into the light. from my position of negative thoughts I have turned negatives to positives and through help with friends and family I was able to have a more positive outlook on life. turning my passion of painting into positive ways have helped in dealing with my stress and helplessness. i am sure with help you can move into a positive position, there are lots of lovely people who care and can help you to move forward. remember you are not alone and help is there for you. take a leap of faith and this will bring positive things for you in the future.

    • I have and continue to have very deep rooted issues. I also understand that talking can be difficult… sometimes you need to be in the right place in your head before you can even open your mouth. Try the book ‘The Power of Now’, by Eckhart Tolle. It’s a good starting point to getting a head into the right space. Don’t give up! Start from where you are, not where you were or where you want to be.. start in the Now and go from there. You’re not alone, really you’re not.. If there was an emoji for a hug.. I’d leave it at this point. Good luck and stick with it!

  13. So excited to hear what Co-op’s doing to support mental health at work. Let’s bring this conversation out into the open! 🙂

    • Yes let’s bring this into the open.

      Co-op recently sponsored a conference on “Staying Strong in Tough Times” at which Jo Whitfield spoke.

      It was excellent.

      The contents from that would be very valuable for people to have access to and I’m sure it would be possible to get it up on here.

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Colleague support, Do what matters most, Great place to work, HR, Show you care

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