Should Retailers Invest in Mental Health? - Power Retail

In honour of Mental Health Awareness month, Walmart announced it would be introducing a program to champion the spread of mental health awareness and teach them the skills needed to aid those in need. Should retailers embrace this concept across the board?



Walmart’s Mental Health First Aid training course runs for four hours, providing lessons for employees to identify, respond and understand the signs and symptoms of those who are struggling with mental health challenges.

The course covers the following areas:

  • Recognise signs and symptoms and provide direct assistance and support;
  • Properly reach out to emergency services on someone’s behalf;
  • Implement the Mental Health First Aid Action Plan;
  • and access to emotional well-being benefits and resources

Within this service, Walmart offers 24/7 confidential counselling services with licensed therapists, said Kim Lupo, the Senior Vice president of Total Global Awards.

“This is just the latest example of how we are reinforcing our commitment to the mental and emotional well-being of our associates,” Lupu shared. “We will continue to offer 24/7 confidential counselling services with licensed therapists at no cost to all associates and their family members, and we will continue to offer our associates the opportunity to get connected any time of the day, with confidential and anonymous virtual support groups with people who are struggling with similar issues.”

Lupo continued to explain that well-being doesn’t just include the ‘absence of illness’, but rather it’s the ‘active presence of wellness’.

“As we head into Mental Health Awareness Month in May, benefits like these will be front and centre as we work to raise awareness for those living with mental or behavioural health challenges and ensure that those who are struggling know that they are not alone,” Lupo said. “We have resources available to help. This is all part of our commitment to helping people live better.”

So, is this an initiative that should be embraced by all retailers moving forward? We asked the experts for their advice about the growing importance of prioritising mental health, and how businesses can introduce services along the way.

It’s no secret that the last two years have seen a shift in the way employees work. Spending more time at home, balancing work, home life, and everything in between, there is more reason than ever to address and pay attention to mental health awareness.

In Australia

Studies in 2020 have shown that one in five (20 percent) Australians experience mental illness in any year. In 2021, 3.4 million (17 percent) Aussies saw health professionals about their mental health, the ABS reported.

According to Mental Health expert, Rik Schnabel, mental health issues are on the rise. “Anxiety, PTSD, depression, have heightened enormously over the last two years, due to COVID,” he said. Almost 12 million Australians are in the workforce; mental health issues can cost the economy $60 billion a year.

With this in mind, mental health can directly impact the outcome of a business, and the effectiveness of an employee’s work if unaddressed. “Mental health issues affect business in that it interrupts the labour supply through absenteeism and productivity in terms of presenteeism (reduced work output),” he explained. “Indirect costs of mental health issues create reduced labour participation. This, in turn, reduces wages, economic growth and tax revenue, and increases consumer welfare costs.”

So, what are the benefits of introducing an MHA scheme to a workplace? According to Schnabel, it can directly lead to a better workplace participation rate, less time off,  and, of course, happier employees. “Investment in workplace mental health could improve workforce participation rates by as much as 30 percent,” he said.

What To Do About It

After chatting with Rik Schnabel, he explained that there are some key tools to explore if a business is planning to invest in mental health training.

CBT-Based Resilience Training:

“Stress management techniques to learn effective management and cope with setbacks,” he said. “Studies have shown that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) interventions are effective in reducing stress and improving wellbeing. ROI= $1.70 for every dollar invested.

Manager Mental Health Training:

“Mental health First Aid training has been shown to be effective in reducing work-related sick leave,” he explained. This can be introduced to managers of a business and discussed with teams at every level.

Worksite Physical Activity:

It’s no secret that fitness and activities can release endorphins, which reduce stress and improves mental health. ” Fitness programmes, exercise and fitness coaches. Effective in improving mental health as long as the exercise is sustained. ROI= $2 for every dollar invested,” Schnabel shared.

So, should retailers invest in mental health awareness? Yes. The answer is yes.

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