• The BRC and Time to Change launch a toolkit to address mental health in the retail industry
  • Mental health problems affect one in six workers each year and is the leading cause of sickness absence 
  • Mental Health First Aid training is one way retailers are tackling this issue 

Time to Change and the British Retail Consortium have today launched a toolkit which aims to help retailers implement a variety of mental health strategies in the workplace. 

‘Mental Wellbeing Toolkit for the Retail Sector’ provides advice on how to carry out various strategies, such as improving employee mental health literacy and training a group of mental first aiders. It also includes a series of case studies to demonstrate how successful these approaches have been in the retail setting.

Mental Health First Aid training equips people with the skills they need to support their own and others’ wellbeing. The training courses empower people to notice signs of mental ill health, and encourage them to break down barriers, listen in a non-judgemental way, and signpost to support for recovery.

One in six employees experience mental health issues at work and many suffer in silence. However, by implementing simple strategies, retailers can go a long way in opening up important conversations and overturning this taboo.

The BRC and its members take the welfare of all those that work in retail extremely seriously. In order to support positive change across the industry, the BRC is working with Time to Change on this mental health toolkit and with the retailTrust, a charity offering support on emotional, physical, vocational and financial wellbeing across the industry.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: 
“We are really excited to launch this toolkit with Time to Change and are confident that it will be a useful aid for many retailers looking to implement a mental health strategy and improve wellbeing more widely. There is a stigma around mental health, especially in the workplace. We hope that this toolkit will help retailers to continue developing a more open, accepting environment and prevent those with mental health issues from suffering in silence.”

Jo Loughran, Director at Time to Change, said:
“We know it can be hard to talk about mental health, which is why we work with employers to encourage staff at all levels to open up; to talk and to listen. Too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless, but with the right support, those of us with mental health problems can recover and have equal opportunities in all areas of life.” 

“Everyone’s attitude makes a difference and that’s why we’re delighted to have worked with the British Retail Consortium in the creation of this toolkit to support an even greater number of employers to create real change in their workplaces.”

Alison Garbutt, Head of Strategic Projects at WHSmith, said:
“At WHSmith it has been our longstanding ambition to treat mental and physical health with equal importance and help reduce the stigma around mental health. As part of this, we ensure all of our line managers receive Mental Health First Aid England training and that we have as many Mental Health First Aiders as physical health first aiders. Our network of Mental Health First Aiders at WHSmith have reported an increase of over 300% in their knowledge and understanding of how to start a conversation about mental health and three quarters of WHSmith employees now say that they feel comfortable speaking to their line manager about their mental health if it is impacting on their work, well above the retail industry average. We are excited about this progress and will continue to work to drive change until we meet our ambition of equality for mental and physical health.”