Supporting our colleagues and their mental health


To say it has been a more testing year than most is an understatement, as coronavirus has forced the world to rethink much of the way in which we live our lives.

Tate & Lyle's UK team of mental health first aiders
The team of Mental Health First Aiders, London, UK (2019)

With schools and offices shifting to remote operations and home learning, towns and city centres closed intermittently, and many countries introducing lockdowns, there’s little in our lives that hasn’t changed: how we connect with others, how we achieve our work, how we parent, how we feed ourselves, how we exercise… the list goes on.

Add to that anxiety around our own health and that of our friends and families, it’s no wonder that the mental health of millions is suffering. So ahead of World Mental Health Day 2020, here’s how we tackle the issue at Tate & Lyle.

As part of our commitment to caring for our people, and the ongoing Environment, Health, Safety, Quality, and Security (EHSQS) programmes that we run worldwide, we treat the mental health of our colleagues with the utmost consideration.

We ran a week of concentrated EHSQS activities in September, and our colleagues around the world were invited to join one of a number of online Health and Wellness sessions hosted by Dr Tony Parker, a consultant clinical psychologist specialising in adult mental health and occupational health psychology.

Each hour long session shared techniques for managing COVID-related stress and anxiety issues, as well as insights into the importance of sleep hygiene, breaking the cycle of anxiety, and how to develop a compassionate mind.

    Dr Tony Parker's seven tips for caring for ourselves at work:    

"Making work fit around our personal lives"

Plan tasks by hourly units

Give your work variety

Focus on achievement, enjoyment, and social contact

Create boundaries

Protect those boundaries!

Plan, and trust the process.

Alongside global initiatives, some individual sites have been offering support to their local teams. For instance, in the past year Tate & Lyle’s London, UK, office and Commercial Food and Innovation Centre in Chicago, US, has seen the training of several Mental Health First Aiders. Following a two-day course, the team, made up of colleagues from all levels of the business, were coached in spotting the early signs of mental health issues, as well as how to provide initial help and encouragement towards professional treatment.

We know that mental health issues can surface at any time, but particularly stressful situations like lockdown and enforced home-working can allow such issues to take root or escalate. That’s why we also make available a global Employee Assistance Programme which offers free support to our colleagues and members of their family , in matters of mental health and wellbeing. The service is available 24 hours and day, seven days a week, and entitles callers to professional counselling sessions, as well as confidential, independent and impartial support.

At Tate & Lyle, our purpose of Improving Lives for Generations includes supporting healthy living and building thriving communities. We know that mental health is a huge part of both of these, and are committed to supporting our colleagues, their families, and the communities we call home, where we can.

Learn more about our purpose of Improving Lives for Generations here.

Learn more about our work supporting local communities here.