Tesco launch voluntary mental health training for staff
Tesco, the UK’s biggest retailer and a business who employ almost 500,000 people around the world, have launched their voluntary mental health training to help UK colleagues to talk openly about mental health. In this article, Yvonne Martin – People Manager at Tesco, shares her experience.
I’m a People Manager and have worked at Tesco for 25 years. Despite no history of mental health issues, in 2010 I was off work sick for five months suffering from anxiety and depression.
Recognising the signs of depression
At the time there had been family bereavements and my Mum had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. My six-year-old son had been suffering from seizures leading to multiple hospital visits. I found the worry about my family incredibly stressful. At work, I was helping colleagues deal with their own problems. All these things were emotionally draining and left me feeling physically and mentally exhausted. I’d become someone unrecognisable to my family, friends and colleagues. I’d always been strong and forthright. Instead I was tearful, withdrawn and emotional. Eventually I broke down.
Luckily, my GP supported me and my family. He diagnosed anxiety and depression signed me off work, arranged counselling and prescribed medication.
I thought the best thing to do would be to leave Tesco as, in my mind, that was what was making me ill. I thought if I did I would get better. However, my husband and GP made sure I didn’t make any rash decisions. I’m truly grateful to them.
“My advice to others would be to understand that people with a mental illness are not well. You may not be able to see something physical that needs repairing, like a broken leg, but it is still just as important.”
Treatment and support
After five months of treatment I returned to work with a six-week support plan. As part of my return, I arranged with my manager to job share with another colleague. I now have a great work life balance and work alongside a fantastic colleague. My confidence and zest for life have all returned.
My advice to others would be to understand that people with a mental illness are not well. You may not be able to see something physical that needs repairing, like a broken leg, but it is still just as important. Give them the time and understanding they need and remember that this can happen to anyone.
I’m pleased Tesco is rolling-out its mental health training to all colleagues, including mental wellness first aider training in partnership with Mind Apples. I hope this helps colleagues have a greater understanding of their own mental health.
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