Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May) organised by the Mental Health Foundation, who have chosen kindness as the theme. Good mental health is a priority for Usdaw and the union is celebrating the role that workplace reps play in supporting members through the ‘It’s Good to Talk’ campaign.

Usdaw’s ‘Impact of Coronavirus’ survey of 7,357 members, primarily essential workers in shops, distribution warehouses, road transport and delivery drivers, shockingly reveals that abuse of shopworkers has doubled during the Coronavirus emergency and 70% are experiencing anxiety, having raised concerns with their employer.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: “These are worrying and very challenging times and Usdaw is supporting our reps and members to be safe at work. While attention is quite rightly focused on protecting members’ physical health, it is vital that we also talk about mental health, which is going to be central to coping with and recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic.

“I have never known a single issue cause nearly three-quarters of our members to raise concerns with their employer in such a short space of time. Our survey reveals that increased abuse in shops, higher rates of illness, greater levels of job insecurity and issues with the benefits system are putting immense pressure on many Usdaw members who are key workers.

“Shopworkers and their colleagues in the retail food supply chain are on the frontline of feeding the country during the current crisis. They are providing an essential service in very difficult circumstances, working long hours in busy stores, facing abuse from customers and of course concerned they may contract Covid-19 and pass it on to their family.

“We have long called for respect for shopworkers, so we very much support the theme of kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week. Studies show that kindness and good mental health are closely linked. Kindness helps reduce our sense of isolation and creates a feeling of belonging, both of which are vital at a time when we are cut off from family members and friends.”

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Mental Health Awareness Week: www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-healthawareness-week/why-kindness-theme

Usdaw’s mental health campaign ‘It’s Good To Talk’:
https://www.usdaw.org.uk/Campaigns/Mental-Health

Usdaw’s ‘Impact of Coronavirus’ survey full results:
www.usdaw.org.uk/CoronavirusReport

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