Let Nature In for Mental Health Week

Above image courtesy of Michael Venville

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the theme is: Let nature in, strengthen your wellbeing – Mā te taiao kia whakapakari tōu oranga!

An important aspect of maintaining our mental health is taking time to care for yourself and rejuvenate, so one of our initiatives is Lifestyle Leave. This lets our team members purchase five to ten days additional leave a year to pursue their interests and passions.

For Customer Experience Manager Lauren Rom this means she can have the extra leave she needs to visit her family in the United Kingdom.

Lauren and her partner come from the UK and they try to go home every 18 months to visit family for a month.

“It’s too hard to go back to the UK just for two weeks, so we go for a month, but it means we use up all our 4 weeks standard leave and have nothing left for the rest of the year.Having Lifestyle Leave means I can still take leave throughout the year” she says.

“For me, it’s about mental health and wellbeing. I’m a firm believer that you should take your annual leave and have some form of break every quarter, whether you go away, spend a day or two on your own, or with your friends.”

Learning Designer Michael Venville has been working for The Warehouse Group for 14 years and has taken Lifestyle Leave since it was first offered about five years ago.

He is a passionate snowboarder and he uses the leave to go to the mountains two or three or times a year in New Zealand and for trips overseas.

“Snowboarding is my passion and it lets you forget everything you are worried about and helps me be less stressed. Lifestyle Leaves takes away the worry of not having enough leave. It means I can follow my passion without worry and spread the cost across the year.”

Other Mental Health Policies *

Mental health is a key issue in New Zealand, with around one in six people experiencing some form of mental illness. In October 2017, The Warehouse Group introduced our ‘Suicide: Supporting those at risk’ policy, designed to ensure early support is available to address significant mental distress among team members. The policy aims to minimise access barriers to primary care, and educates managers on how to support and respond to team members who may be experiencing mental distress.

The Group already offered free counselling to team members and their families, and the new policy provides additional support by way of a free GP visit, and the opportunity to take leave to support family members or colleagues experiencing mental distress.

In 2015 we launched our Domestic Violence Policy to support team members experiencing family violence. We provided training to managers on how to appropriately support employees, and made resources and information available on our intranet.

In 2016 we created a shielded icon on our external website to allow women to access help and support services in a way that is untraceable on their computer.

We have focused on reducing the impact of family violence in New Zealand through our fundraising initiatives in our 2018 financial year (1st August – 31st July)18, including raising $638,000 through The Warehouse Group Gala Dinner for the Breakthrough programme. Breakthrough is a partnership between The Salvation Army and The Parenting Place to help fathers with a history of domestic violence become better dads.

We have shared our knowledge about domestic violence with over 100 other businesses interested in developing their own policies, and readily welcome enquiries. We were acknowledged for our work in this area by Women’s Refuge and received their Workplace Refuge endorsement for businesses actively providing a workplace refuge for employees experiencing family violence. We were also the first organisation in New Zealand to become White Ribbon accredited in 2017.

Supporting our employees and communities in New Zealand with Mental Health is a focus for The Warehouse Group and helps us to make Kiwis lives better everyday.

*(The Warehouse Group Annual Report 2018)

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