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John Lewis, Asos, M&S and Next collaborate on mental health initiative for retail workers

By Huw Hughes

10 Oct 2019


John Lewis Partnership, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asos, the Co-op, Marks and Spencer and Next have all teamed up to mark World Mental Health Day by launching a mental health initiative for retail workers.

In a UK industry-first, the seven leading retailers have joined together with the help of UK charity Samaritans to fund and launch a new online training guide designed to help the mental health and wellbeing of the companies’ workers.

The Wellbeing in Retail initiative aims to help the 2.9 million people that work in retail across the UK, with an online guide to help workers look after their own mental health, give advice on how to support others who may be struggling and signposts where to go for extra help.

The online guide was inspired by joint research from the John Lewis Partnership, Marks and Spencer, the Co-op and Next, which revealed that more than 50 percent of the 2,000 retail workers surveyed could not recognise signs indicating that someone needs emotional support. Around 25 percent said they would not feel confident approaching an upset colleague.

Seven leading UK retailers launch mental health initiative

The Wellbeing in Retail online guide features practical information and suggestions, activities and resources that can be accessed whenever and however workers need it and is accessible via desktop, phone or tablet. Tools include breathing techniques, the Samaritans listening wheel, mood barometer, films from mental health experts and case studies.

Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, commented: “Mental health issues can affect us all - and stigmas and barriers that once prevented people talking about the issues are starting to erode. The world of work and retail, in particular, is fast-paced and constantly changing, and we want employees to feel supported. I hope this guide is a stepping stone to creating further conversations on mental health and gives workers the confidence to use it when they may need it.”

Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of the Samaritans, added: “It’s so encouraging to see retailers come together like this for the first time in the interest of improving their staff’s mental health. Over recent years, we have seen a real step-change in the attitudes and behaviours of employers as they actively seek to address how they can improve wellbeing in the workplace and we are proud to be part of making this transition happen.”

Photo courtesy of John Lewis Partnership