By Gary Dewin, People Director

It’s World Mental Health Day on Thursday. It’s a global event which aims to educate and create awareness of mental health issues and eliminate social stigmas. Throughout the week, we’re shining a light on Mental Health and the importance of looking after yourself.

Everyone struggles from time to time. Your mental and physical wellbeing is one of the most important things to us here at Co-op. That’s why we’re proud to announce we’ve been working with Samaritans, along with a number of other retailers, to create Wellbeing in Retail.

Supporting your mental health

Wellbeing in Retail is an interactive e-Learning module. It’ll give you an opportunity to reflect about how you’re feeling, give you the knowledge to think about how you’re doing, and help you with some techniques to take better care of yourself. It’ll also help you understand how you can support others by spotting signs and having great conversations.

You’ll find a range of video content, interactive animations, traditional e-Learning and some conversations for you to try out.

This is the first time retailers have worked together like this, all towards supporting and looking after their colleagues and each other. I’d love everyone to take a few minutes to take part, get involved and understand more about their mental health. To take part, log into MyHR, go to Learning and search for ‘Wellbeing’ or ‘Health’. For those of you in Insurance, this will be loaded into your learning system.

Updating our Mental Health Toolkit

We also want to make sure every single one of you has easy access to the tools, support and information, when (or if) you need help. We have two Mental Health Toolkits. The first provides more information for colleague and managers whilst the second is aimed at managers who are supporting a colleague who is absent as a result of mental health concerns. Both of these are available to access via our Mental Health policy page on the Colleague Site.

24/7 support from LifeWorks

Don’t forget that you’re also invited to join LifeWorks, who offer a broad range of support no matter what you’re going through.

They’ve also recently launched ‘CareNow’, which are a set of self-study modules that support colleagues who may have stress, anxiety or depression. You can also use them to help you better understand these conditions.

If you haven’t signed up to LifeWorks yet, you should have received an invitation email last week. Otherwise, you can find out more information on our Colleague Site.

Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. The world has gone mad. Courses about make up who are we kidding. This is complete and utter nonsense. Who is thinking these things up. I despair about the nanny state we are in right now and managers are coming up with more and more bizarre ideas to impress senior managers

  2. I will certainly give this e-learning a go. I have a huge interest in mental health. A few years ago I did a college course in mental health & awareness which was very helpful. I would love any future opportunity to continue to broaden my knowledge.

  3. Makeup workshops? Aspire newsletters? Never heard of them.
    Just adds to the frustration I feel every single day when things are not shared equally, things are promised and not acted upon, things are changed with no consultation, things are put back to how we used to do them several years ago because a management decision has been proved wrong (which could have been avoided if anyone listened BEFORE changing things) etc. etc.
    Yes, mental health is vital – I have looked at the on-line learning tool and yes, I score pretty low in terms of mental health.
    When your computer constantly freezes, your tablet decides not to connect and you are told ‘we’re working on it’ – it doesn’t help you when you still have to do your job with all the targets and goals that we have to achieve to have any chance of even smelling a little ‘bonus’ payment (I wonder how many of these hoops senior managers have to jump through to get their bonuses?). Ancient versions of programs that even Microsoft no longer support – when all management have much more up to date versions. None of it helps to make us feel worthwhile or valued. ‘One Co-op’??? Certainly not the one I work in.

    • I agree and further down the line its the little things that wear you down. Like not having a decent chair to sit on when you have a 6 hour shift and your job is to sit; and sitting next to an open door with rain and wind actually landing on your face. Nobody cares. There’s little or no communication passed onto those on the tills and this upsets me. I don’t have mental health issues but years down the line I feel the knock-on effect.

  4. It would be nice to have time to apply make up in the morning. I’m all for supporting mental health. I have a family member who suffers. I can say however if we could all take time off when feeling stressed out our stores would be unable to operate. It’s a hard decision to ring in sick with flue symptoms etc because you know how much impact that will have on the store that day

  5. I fully support us doing more around this vital issue that impacts so many. I do find we do a few things that may be counter productive. I just received an invite to improve my personal development plan by visiting some workshops here at head office on how to apply/wear makeup.
    Should we really be promoting, that to further your career you should have to wear makeup in a particular way? Feels like we suddenly stepped back 3 decades.

    • I don’t agree at all – I think it’s a really nice opportunity to learn more about something that many people are interested in. The reality is that many, many people wear make up every day and this is a way to think about it in terms of enjoying your face and yourself and improving confidence, rather than saying that to get ahead you have to look a certain way. I don’t usually wear any make up at all and I fully hope and expect to get ahead in my career regardless, but I’ve signed up to a make up workshop because when I do use it, it would be nice to know how to do it with better technique. Also, it sounds like a laugh. And laughter is proven to be good for your health, so why not!

    • My mental health improved dramatically when I stopped wearing make-up. I genuinely used to hate looking in the mirror without make-up because I had gotten used to ‘my face’ with it, and felt ugly without it. Now it’s just a special treat for celebrations etc.

      Because it’s so widely expected for women to wear make-up, when I first stopped wearing it, for the first few months I used to get all sorts of backhanded comments from colleagues about how tired or sick or ill I looked just because I wasn’t wearing makeup, but I persevered and after a few months everyone realised that’s just what I look like without face-paint on, and the awkward comments stopped, and my skin got a lot better because I wasn’t coating it in oily foundation twice a day. I’ve also saved 15 minutes of my morning routine and £££ in not replacing cosmetic products – win win win!

      Receiving that email encouraging me to sign up to make-up classes just reminded me of the unfair double standards and unrealistic expectations we place on women, it felt weird it was being encouraged and celebrated as a part of office life, and reminded me of all the comments I got from colleagues in Angel Square who thought there was something seriously wrong with me just because I wasn’t wearing it.

    • Hi Bob,

      The make up workshop you mention was organised and run by Aspire, our network which focuses on female colleague empowerment, and is an external event. The event was set-up to empower anyone (not just women) to learn how to make makeup work for them, or for anyone who wants to learn how to apply makeup.

      This has nothing to do with personal development plans and was completely optional for colleague to attend (or not). We have no make up policy in place for anyone and we respect the right for colleague to be themselves.

      Hope this clarifies.

      • Hi, Paul. I am not even a member of aspire so should’nt have received the email really. It was forwarded to our entire floor by a senior member of staff who advised it would help with our PDP’s (personal development plans). I agree as an external event, that is solely for co-op staff only(so externally only internal?!?!). In its own right its fine and dandy.
        I just didn’t see why it was attributed to career development

        • Hi Bob

          If your senior leader shared the Aspire newsletter, there were five or six different workshops and events that colleagues are invited to throughout October. The Colleague Networks run a lot of social, networking and engagement events that cover a variety of things.

          Possibly, they might have been referring to one of the other events to help with career development, for example, INspire: Connecting & Adapting which gives you an understanding as to how you can adapt your style to better connect with others.

          I’m sure your senior manager didn’t mean anything malicious by sharing some interesting opportunities that you and your colleagues can get involved in. But if you do have an issue, maybe you could have a conversation with the colleague in question to gain their understanding behind their objective in sharing the email.

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