Tesco launch voluntary mental health training for staff

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 Instead I was tearful, withdrawn and emotional.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.

Nobody is more influential when it comes to communicating your company’s brand and workplace culture, than the employees themselves. If you’d like to share your workplace, employee and community engagement and network group news and updates with our readers, then we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us here!

About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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