Walmart is launching a major mental health education and support effort for its employees as the United States grapples with a behavioral health crisis.
The retail giant, which has about 1.6 million employees in the U.S. alone, announced Monday a new “workplace mental health course” that will focus on teaching Walmart leaders and managers how to deal with someone struggling with behavioral health issues. The course will be facilitated by doctors from Lira Health Company, known for teaching about mental health risks in the workplace.
Walmart wants to “engage appropriately and compassionately with anyone who may be struggling with mental health challenges,” Donna Morris, Walmart’s chief people officer, said in a memo to company leaders at the director level and above, including campus associates across the retailer’s markets and regions. .
“Some of our leaders have already had the opportunity to participate in a sample course earlier this year, and we are excited to offer these one-hour sessions to a wider audience – facilities, fields and campus offices,” said Morris. “This new workplace mental health course is the next step in our ongoing journey to support the mental wellbeing of our associates.”
The new course builds on mental health training and support Walmart already provides its employees with access to counseling and virtual care at no cost with licensed psychiatrists, therapists and psychologists.
The effort also comes as workplace violence increases.
Walmart found the company’s name in the headlines last year over an employee’s mental health issues that turned fatal in a workplace shooting. Later, a Virginia woman who survived a gunman’s shooting at a Walmart store that killed six employees, sued the retailer, claiming she had filed a formal complaint about the gunman and her danger to fellow employees. Yet Walmart kept him employed, the lawsuit says. The gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
Walmart said its initiative isn’t tied to a specific issue, citing statistics the company says show more than 20% of U.S. adults struggle with their mental health.
Lyra Health, meanwhile, called Walmart’s efforts “groundbreaking.”
“Walmart’s leaders are uniquely positioned to spot the signs of distress, and this course will help them learn how to recognize signs that may indicate someone needs support during a time when emotional distress is at an all-time high,” Lyra Health’s senior director of workforce transformation, Dr. . Joe Grasso, Dr. “Importantly, the course also provides managers with step-by-step guidance on how to have a normalizing and empathetic conversation with the ultimate goal of referring appropriate resources. In deploying this course, Walmart is taking the lead in how to foster a mentally healthy work culture, destigmatize mental health issues, and ensure people have access to the care they need when they need it.”
“That’s why supporting the health and well-being of our associates is a top priority for us, and these new offerings are just part of the resources we provide to our associates to support their physical, mental and financial well-being. A Walmart spokesperson said. “We want our associates and their families to have access to mental health resources to help them manage their stressors, build resilience and get care when they need it. These new mental health facilities are the next step in our ongoing journey to focus on the mental well-being of our associates.”
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