By Paul Caudwell, Health Wellbeing Manager

We know that one in four adults in the UK will be affected by mental health problems at any given point in time. We also know that there remains a stigma around mental health both in society as a whole but also in the workplace.

We want to breakdown the stigma and help create a climate where our colleagues can bring their whole self to work. By doing so, we want colleagues to be open about how they’re feeling. That’s why we’re supporting Mental Health Awareness Week and focusing our colleague wellbeing work for the remainder of 2019 on mental health.

Our Inclusion Pioneers and People teams are running activities up and down the country using our activity pack. There’s still time for you to use the material over a cuppa with those around you.

Today we’re launching our first wellbeing toolkit which aims to provide all colleagues with basic mental health knowledge. You can find it on the Co-op Learning Portal.

Some of our colleagues have agreed to share their stories this week. The video below tells John’s story from his and his manager’s perspective.

Over on LifeWorks we’ll share more colleague stories later in the week so feel free take a look.

Join the conversation! 20 Comments

  1. As a company we do really need to progress in this area. I found my absence and personal suffering extended due to lack of knowledge within management about anxiety and depression. Being called multiple times a day on your personal phone while signed off, is not conducive to a fast recovery.

  2. Really good to see so much awareness being raised amongst colleagues, and that people are being supported and admired for speaking of their experiences and struggles instead of alienated and made to feel worse.
    What I would love to see from the Co-op, is to start to focus on the impact that work has on our mental health, take some responsibility around specifically what they can do as an employer to remove some of the causes of pressures that add to our anxiety and stresses.
    In recent studies, 21% admitted to taking a day off work ill as a result of workplace stress. 14% said they had resigned from a job and 42% considered resigning due to how stress and work pressures affected them.
    70% of staff don’t feel that they can talk openly about their mental health with their manager and 60% of Line Managers are saying they would like to do more to help their teams but don’t feel that they have the right training or knowledge.

    So my question is: What are the Co-op doing to improve the environment we work in, to help in removing the factors that negatively affect our mental health?

  3. Don’t forget the 1AS Mental Health Support Group meets on alternate Wednesdays, all welcome. Search the Intranet for details.

  4. I’ve been with the co-op for a couple of months now, and to be fair I feel at my store there’s a serious lack of understanding on mental health and hidden disabilities. Unfortunately I have a form of epilepsy, however not the stereotypical fall down shaking variety we all know, my epilepsy causes a lot of confusion and memory issues, and should a seizure occur mt body would lock and I simply stare for X amount of time, when I come round I have no memory of the event. thankfully I remain seizure free for a number of years however to reach this stage I had to have a part of the brain removed in 2012. The right temporal lobe. This lobe controls short term memory intake. I often briefly forget recent conversations/instructions/requests etc, however despite been informed of my difficulty, some staff are not as supportive as they make out to be and I’m looked upon as I’m been the awkward one.

    • Hi Craig,

      Thanks for sharing that experience. There’s clearly an opportunity for your team to better understand what’s going on with you and your manager can help you to achieve this.

      The mental health toolkit is great for upskilling on mental health but for your circumstances there are a few things it would help your team to know (what is your condition, how do you manage it, how does it impact you, how can they see that things aren’t quite right, what can they do to help).

      You can always speak to LifeWorks too – they can help you to shape these conversations and help you to plan how to approach it if you or your manager are unsure.

  5. Thank you for sharing, it means a lot to people to know that they are not alone.

  6. A very big thanks must go to John and Matthew for sharing this with us. It’s time we felt ok with saying we need help or support. This film will help more of us understand the support is there and how to get it! Well done

  7. John. You are a true inspiration. I am humbled by your bravery. You have by doing this given a voice to so many of our colleagues. I am an absolute advocate of needing to understand a persons story – understanding someone’s whole life as well as their work life is so very important.

  8. Well done John the hardest part is that initial dialogue when you realise something isn’t right.

    I was stuck in a cycle of depression and alcohol addiction for several years, It was only when it started effecting my ability to work that I had to talk to my manager, it was terrifying.
    I was so happy to realise how supportive my manager and team was, they supported me with all my therapy appointments or if they could see I was struggling they would take me for a coffee, just that 10 minutes talking over stuff helped to keep me positive.
    The CBT Courses that GPs will refer can be really useful in helping the negative thought process.

    I really felt supported and safe at the Co-Op.

  9. Thanks both for sharing your story – this is truly inspirational and will hopefully inspire many others to speak up and make good use of all the great support available. Don’t suffer in silence.

  10. It takes so much to be able to just talk about mental health, Your an inspiration to other colleagues John and it certainly helps others in talking about their own mental health issues and breaking down this stigma attached to mental health. Well done and thank you for sharing this.

  11. Very dignified. It’s great to see people sharing their experience to help others and actually confronting issues. We must find a way for more people to share who might be afraid to. I thought about some anonymous stories on posters. I have a friend who was a abused but they are too scared to talk about it. Dignity and Education are important.

    On a personal note. Don’t get bogged down in it too much mate. We are here.

  12. It is good to share experiences on mental health issues to break the stigma. if you have a broken leg you can see it and help and understanding is there. when you have a mental health issue it is not always seen. I have suffered from mental health issues and was off for 9 months due to my poor mental health at the time due to reducing my tablets for stress and coping with my Dad being sectioned under the mental health act with his vascular dementia and other medical conditions and placed in a care home. family and friends passed away and my pet dog passed away resulting in a tsunami of stress I had a breakdown . but with the help of my GP, psychiatrist and family and the COOP and my manager being so caring and understanding I have now been back in work for the last few months and back on track. it is good to see the COOP and the Unite union are helping in a positive way

  13. A big thank you for agreeing to share your story. It’s great to see you received the right support and because of that felt able to talk openly about your Mental Health. A listening ear is so important. Hopefully others who are struggling on a daily basis will be encouraged to come forward and ask for help and support.
    Thank You

  14. Well done and thankyou for sharing this story.

  15. Wow what an incredible film, thank you for sharing your story.

  16. Brilliant film. Very brave. Thank you

  17. What a great film!
    Well done John for putting yourself out there and sharing your experience. Due the stigma attached to mental health, I know it will have taken a great deal of courage.
    Your experience will resonate with so many people and your encouragement to reach out to the multiple options of assistance will make such a difference to others who struggle.
    Hope people take from this film, it isn’t just you, you aren’t weak to be struggling and it will not always feel like this.

  18. Can I please say a massive thank you to John & Matthew for creating this video and sharing their story!
    As a pioneer when I supported with my first mh awareness session on Friday, I didn’t watch the video beforehand… and oh my! The story absolutely resonated with me from my own experiences, and I take my hat off to John. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get through the rest of that session but his bravery inspired me to hold it together. Thanks Guys!

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