Southern Co-op Promotes Mental Health in the Workplace

With Princes William and Harry recently raising the profile of World Mental Health Day, Southern Co-op hosted a staff event at their Lakeside headquarters on the subject of wellbeing in the workplace and looking after your own mental health last month [13 October], presented by local mental health charity, Solent Mind.

The aim of the event was to address the stigma associated with discussing mental health, and how to seek support in areas such as depression and workplace anxiety. Representatives from Solent Mind shared ideas and best practice for use in a work setting, aimed at managers and decision makers with an interest in workplace wellbeing.

Clare Grant, Head of Peer Support at Solent Mind, said, “Employers are increasingly aware of the importance of workplace wellbeing. Valued and supported staff are far more likely to deliver the best outcomes for your business in key areas such as staff recruitment, retention and improved performance. Supporting employees, reclaiming lunch breaks, getting the work-life balance right all help to bring wellbeing in to the workplace. I have really enjoyed meeting the staff at Lakeside today and think it’s been an extremely productive morning.”

Earlier this year, Southern Co-op selected Solent Mind as a major charity partner, donating an initial £80, 000 kicking-off a two year partnership as part of Southern Co-op’s ‘Love Your Neighbourhood’ scheme.

Said Gemma Lacey, Director Sustainability and Communications at Southern Co-op: “I can’t emphasise enough how important today’s session has been and I would like to thank Solent Mind, on behalf of all of us at Lakeside, for taking the time to talk to us. At some point in their lives everyone needs mental health support and if we can provide that in the workplace, where stress and anxiety can easily occur, as a responsible business we absolutely should. We have all taken a lot of useful knowledge away from this morning’s event, and I would urge other businesses to speak to their local Mind branch for business support.”

Southern Co-op’s ‘Love Your Neighbourhood’ community engagement programme promotes four key social themes, ‘Greener Neighbourhoods’, ‘Healthier Neighbourhoods’, ‘Safer Neighbourhoods’, and ‘More Inclusive Neighbourhoods’.

Charities and community groups can also apply for cash donations or goods in kind through the ‘Love Your Neighbourhood’ scheme which is funded by the 5p single-use carrier bag levy. For more information on how to apply, please speak to your local store’s manager, or visit:

Top tips for staying well at work

Reclaim your lunch break Why not make the most of that precious hour – or half hour – by trying some of these suggestions…

Organise a picnic Take advantage of the summer sun and make the most of clean air and good food with your colleagues.

Hold a group activity If there’s a green space near your workplace why not organise a game of rounders or football, hold a guerrilla gardening session, or a group walk? Take time to enjoy the outdoors and get re-energised for an afternoon of productive work.

Take up a challenge Local sponsored walks or marathons are a great way to keep active. Sign with your colleagues and train together during lunch breaks. Participating as part of a team can give a communal sense of achievement when you complete the challenge. You could even support Mind’s work by signing up to one of our running events.

Whistle while you work If you’re feeling stressed, listening to a calming song can take your mind off work for a few minutes and help you unwind and refocus. Research has found slow, quiet music can encourage relaxation and reduce anxiety.

When you’re working hard to complete a task, music can also help eliminate distractions around you. By blocking out the noise of your fellow workers, machinery or bleeping phones you can focus easier on the task at hand.

Listen to your favourite song as a simple treat to yourself. Rewarding yourself is a great way for your general wellbeing, giving you some added motivation so you can better tackle a big workload.

Getting the work-life balance right

Are you often the last to leave work? We know you’ll have times when you need to work overtime to meet deadlines, but try to make this the exception not the norm. Long hours means you may be working harder, but not better – they’ll quickly take their toll on your concentration, productiveness and health.

Create clear boundaries between work and home Try not to let work spill over into your personal life. If you need to bring work home, designate a separate area for work and stick to it, you’ll find it much easier to then close the door on work.

Start a To Do list At the end of each day, go over your list and write up one for the next day, when your thoughts are down on paper, you’ll find it easier to not think about work.

Use the time on your commute home to wind down from work Read a book or listen to your music to set aside some time to yourself. Maybe try cycling part of your journey or getting off a stop early to take a shortcut through a park or quiet streets. These little actions can really help you to switch off.

Ask for help If you feel your workload is spiralling out of control, take opportunity to discuss it with your manager or supervisor. If you can’t resolve the problem of unrealistic goals, organisation problems or deadlines in this way, talk to your personnel department, trade union representative or other relevant members of staff.

Five steps to wellbeing The new economics foundation pinpointed five essential steps to improving wellbeing on a daily basis. They’re a great way to start thinking about how you can improve your daily working life.

Read Solent Mind’s suggested five ways to wellbeing at work.