Retailers join together to launch mental health support for retail workers

In a UK industry first, seven retailers have joined forces to launch an online training guide designed to help the mental health and wellbeing of retail workers.

Funded by the John Lewis Partnership,(JLP) Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASOS, Co-op, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Next – and developed with the expertise of the Samaritans charity – ‘Wellbeing in Retail’ aims to aid the 2.9 million people that work in retail.

The guide aims to help workers look after their own mental health, gives advice on how to support others who may be struggling and signposts where to go for extra help.

Retail is the largest private sector employer in the UK and the development of this guide was inspired by joint research from JLP, M&S, Co-op and Next, which revealed that over 50% of the 2,000 retail workers questioned could not recognise the signs of someone needing emotional support, and around 25% would not feel confident approaching an upset colleague.

‘Wellbeing in Retail’ features practical information, suggestions, activities and resources that can be accessed via desktop, phone or tablet.

Sir Cary Cooper CBE, who specialises in organisational psychology and health, supports the guide’s launch. He said: “We spend a third of our lives at work, so it’s inevitable that it can impact our overall health and wellbeing. In my opinion you can never provide enough mental health support at work, so I welcome the launch of this guide as it could benefit so many retail workers.”

JLP chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield commented: “Mental health issues can affect us all – and stigmas and barriers that once prevented people talking about the issues are starting to erode. The world of work, and retail in particular, is fast-paced and constantly changing, and we want employees to feel supported. I hope this guide is a stepping stone to creating further conversations on mental health, and gives workers the confidence to use it when they may need it.”

Ruth Sutherland, chief executive of the Samaritans, added: “It’s so encouraging to see retailers come together like this for the first time in the interest of improving their staff’s mental health. Over recent years, we’ve seen a real step change in the attitudes and behaviours of employers as they actively seek to address how they can improve wellbeing in the workplace, and we’re proud to be part of making this transition happen.”

For more information visit If you know of a retailer who would benefit, contact

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