Foodstuffs North Island is rolling out mental health training and tools to give team members the skills to better support themselves and those around them. In an effort to improve and ensure the wellbeing of its team members the company and its 22,000 team members, as well as customers in their New World, PAK'nSAVE, Four Square and Gilmours stores, will get support and training based around the three R’s – Recognise, Response and Refer.

The initiative will be offered to the stores first as they are at the grassroots of the cooperative and closest to New Zealand’s regional communities.

“It’s about giving our people the skills to know what to look out for, how to start a conversation, and letting them know what support is available. We’re not expecting our people to be experts or to deal with these tough issues on their own. The reality is one in every two New Zealanders will experience a mental health issue throughout their lifetime. Making sure our people are well-supported is critically important to us,” said Wendy Hammonds, general manager of people and capability.

As well as providing practical training resources for all of its New World, PAK'nSAVE, Four Square, and Gilmours stores, Foodstuffs is offering sessions for its 800 plus support centre team. The aim will be to help the team learn to identify the early warning signs and mental health increase awareness in general. The initiative is already underway with more than 300 leaders from across the company taking part in a mental health education session last month.

“Workplaces can play a central role in breaking down the barriers around mental health by making it part of normal conversation. We can help reduce the stigma that exists around mental health and make sure our people can bring their whole selves to work, every single day.”

“As a big company, we can make a big impact. But our biggest strength is really how small we are – all our stores are locally owned and operated, creating a level of close connection in our teams that you don’t get in a lot of big companies.”

Foodstuffs North Island will also support its team by providing free wellness checks to staff.