Staff at the East of England Co-op have undertaken mental health training from Suffolk Mind.

The retailer and charity joined together as a method of providing colleagues with the knowledge and skills to support each other's mental health.

The approach encourages employers to create workplaces which enable people to meet their emotional needs such as control, community and security.

Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, said “This work with the East of England Co-op goes beyond the standard response we see from some employers, to simply make counselling available to employees, host a couple of wellbeing events and have a few mental health first aiders.

East Anglian Daily Times: Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk MindJon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind (Image: Suffolk Mind)

"The organisation’s leadership has sent a clear signal to colleagues that they want to make a real difference by continually improving their workplace culture and training colleagues to be able to support each other better.”

Suffolk Mind initially trained the senior leadership team and is now working with more than 200 line managers across the organisation, which it says will create a waterfall effect throughout the workforce.

In addition to line managers, funeral and security teams have received training due to their roles often exposing them to high emotions, other people’s distress and potentially difficult experiences.

Doug Field, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op, said: “We want to be the best retail organisation in our region for talking about and taking care of mental health, providing our colleagues with a supportive environment to help them grow.

East Anglian Daily Times: Doug Field, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-opDoug Field, joint chief executive at the East of England Co-op (Image: Copyright: Archant 2017)

“We live by the value of being stronger together. By understanding mental health and wellbeing and having the confidence to have those conversations with our colleagues, together we can be unstoppable.”

Charlie Green, deputy head of education at Suffolk Mind, said it’s vital everyone understands their emotional needs to support their wellbeing, and by normalising mental health conversations we can create a more supportive environment for each other.

She added: "We need to normalise mental health – we all have a brain, so we all have mental health.”