Lion NZ has partnered with Lifeline Aotearoa to launch a new mental health scheme, but the response has been mixed from anti-alcohol campaigners.

The Zero Suicide Workplace Scheme was developed to reduce suicide rates in the workplace and will include an audit of wellness policies, wellbeing surveys, specialised suicide prevention training and ongoing support option through Lifeline. However, some are saying it is disingenuous when alcohol can be the cause of many of the issues leading to suicide.

“We are an alcohol business but we know it is an issue and we know that people need support and understanding around mental wellbeing," said Lion’s safety and wellbeing leader Andy Graves. “There are so many things out there to give people advice when they are at the stage where they are really acute and feeling the pressure, but it's about identifying those people before they get to that point and what tools and skills can we give them beforehand.”

Lifeline director Glenda Schnell said that Lion was chosen to their existing "well-established employee mental health and wellbeing platform".

“They also employ around 1200 people in NZ, giving us the chance to trial the program with a diverse and large workplace.”

While Schnell acknowledged that there could be discomfort with the association with Lion, this was a chance to develop an important mental health service.

“With no government funding for Lifeline's community helplines, this program will provide another revenue stream to ensure it can continue to provide this essential service.”