Countdown has introduced mental health training and opened a 24-hour phone-line to ensure they offer its team the support they need. Being one of the largest employers in the country, Countdown is serious about providing its 18,400 strong team with a safe and supportive workplace.

In addition to the phone line being set up, 100 team members from across logistics, support office and senior management will undertake extensive training to assist them in understanding the signs of mental illness and how to approach and talk to team members who may be impacted.  Countdown has also appointed eight trainers to assist in educating the staff.

From the new year onwards, Countdown will be holding workshops to help the team identify the signs and impacts of mental illness and how they can offer support.  The workshops will be run by eight trainers who will teach the team members both in store and at its distribution centres.

Currently, the supermarket chain has a confidential 0800 number available 24/7 specifically to support team members who are experiencing mental health, as well as a confidential email system. The company also offers unlimited, free counselling that is 100 percent confidential and independent.

“We want our team to know they work for a business that cares. Mental illness is a reality for so many Kiwis and the experience for too many is one of loneliness, isolation and fear. The message for our team is you aren’t alone.  We have a range of external support options available as well as a growing number of our own team who are specially trained in providing guidance,” explained  Kiri Hannifin, Countdown general manager of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability.

“There are some very alarming mental health statistics in New Zealand that all of us should be concerned about.  We know it’s not just up to the health system to provide support to those in need. As a big business, we also have a responsibility to do what we can to support mental wellness and provide a workplace that our team feel valued, safe and cared for.”

Countdowns work in the mental health space is a leading example for other corporate businesses to follow.

“Employees don’t leave their lives at the door when they clock in, and a business that not only supports the mental health of its staff but values the resilience that overcoming challenges brings makes economic sense,” added Taimi Allen, CEO Changing Minds.