20.06.2019

Mental health in the hospitality industry

Mental Health in the Hospitality Industry

Issues around mental health are thankfully being discussed more openly than ever before. Whilst some industries have done a lot to address stress at work, the hospitality industry has often lagged behind.

The mental health charity Mind, believe that a quarter of people within the UK will experience a mental health issue every year. This is compounded by the fact that people are not dealing with their problems as well, with self-harm and suicidal incidents increasing.

The Unite union undertook a survey of London chefs and just over a half stated that they suffer from depression due to being overworked. And over a quarter said they drink alcohol to get them through their shift.

Within hospitality, the industry publication The Caterer, ran a campaign in 2018 to raise awareness of mental health issues within the sector. What they found was that almost two-thirds of respondents believe that they have a mental health issue. With a huge 75% claiming to have had experienced a mental health problem at some point in their career.

Alarmingly only half had sought any help or guidance. Also concerning was the fact that over 50% again had not made their employer aware. This showed virtually no change from a campaign undertaken in 2012.

It seems that the stigma of mental health still looms large over many people. But there is a silver lining. The number of people who felt that there was a stigma attached to mental health declined by 20%.

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, said: “It’s worrying to see such high levels of stress and poor mental health within the hospitality industry. It’s even more concerning that so few people are seeking help, or opening up to their employers about it, probably because of the perceived stigma surrounding mental health. Staff struggling in silence are unlikely to be getting the support they need, and this can make things worse.

“Employees living with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety can and do make a valuable contribution to the workplace but may need additional support. If your mental health problem meets the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010 – in that it has a substantial, adverse, and long-term effect on normal day-to-day activities – you need to tell your employer about it.

Employers then have a duty to make reasonable adjustments, which could include for example, anything from changes to working hours, roles and responsibilities, to providing quiet rooms and regular breaks.”

Overall workers want greater investment in staffing alongside training. They want better incentives. Above all they want access to counselling.

The charity Hospitality Action last year found out that less than 20% of managers and less than 10% of regular workers had received any offer of mental health training.

“Offering things like flexible working hours, employee assistance programmes and regular catch-ups with managers sends a message to employees that their contribution is valued,” said Mamo.

Above all, what workers really wanted was understanding and compassion. Although many did acknowledge that employers were beginning to put things in place that they may not have previously done.


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