Usdaw Union Learning Reps have been working with employer the Co-op to support positive attitudes towards mental health, and a campaign at Castlewood Co-op Retail Logistics (CRL) in Derbyshire shows why “It’s good to talk” changing the perception of mental health.
Learning at the Castlewood CRL is well established with an excellent team of ULRs and an active learning centre managed through a joint Committee. The team have run many functional skills courses along with distance learning courses.
The learning committee meets each month to review progress and to plan further work. They were a little surprised to discover that the mental health awareness course was very popular and began to analyse the reasons for this. They soon realised that both the Co-op and Usdaw had developed policies and campaigns around good mental health and that it was clearly an issue for many staff. It made sense to link up the policies and campaigns with the learning agenda into a wider initiative.
Usdaw Project Worker Neil Chapman said:
We agreed to run an ‘It`s Good to Talk’ campaign.”
This highlights the need to talk about mental health and shows that talking about it can help to tackle poor mental health.”
The campaign is supported by Usdaw’s Equality Department and has a campaign pack to help sites get started – everything from tea, coffee and biscuit packs to very informative literature around mental health.
We ran the campaign in the canteen with reps released for the day. People could have a chat about the issue and we asked them to fill in a short survey. We also promoted a range of distance learning courses around mental health which we run through the learning centre.”
The results amazed both the reps and management. 125 surveys were completed with 98 colleagues saying that they had or knew someone who had suffered from poor mental health.
Neil added that:
It really opened our eyes and made us realise that it was a real issue for many people.”
The surveys also collected lots of other information on whether people knew where to go for help, what they expected for their employer and their union and whether they had supported a colleague who has a mental health problem.
Neil summed up saying that:
It was clear that this was just the start. The campaign engaged on different level with colleagues and we are planning to do more events like this.”
We are also exploring how we can better support staff and make sure they know where to go if they have a problem. Usdaw can source courses like Mental Health First Aid which would give us a team of trained staff on site.”
Whatever happens it’s clear that the site is just at the start but it is a good example of how Usdaw’s lifelong learning campaign can support and enhance an astonishing range of workplace issues.