Christmas may be heralded as a time for customers to be jolly and let their hair down, but the extra pressure on hospitality workers can take its toll. This year has witnessed an unprecedented amount of media attention being given to mental health. In spite of the increased awareness of this potentially crippling health issue, it remains a stigma that is offten neither spoken about nor understood. While progress has been made, with many high-profile individuals undoubtedly helping through their involvement, we are barely out of the starting blocks regarding the unseen taboo that strikes randomly across all walks of life. Industry charity Hospitality Action is on a mission to rectify the situation.
Tis the season of stress
Hospitality Action(HA), other organisations and prominent individuals have worked hard in recent years to bring mental health problems to the fore and challenge the taboos that prevent people from feeling comfortable to seek help when required.
Talking about mental health can save lives.
While progress has been made in mental health awareness and people’s ability to talk about it, we still have a long way to go. In order to truly make progress, colleagues and managers – all of us – need to be equipped to support a person asking for help and not be worried about saying the wrong thing or giving advice that we think may get us in trouble. We need to feel confident in our ability to help a friend in need and ready to ask for help if we are worried about our own mental health.
In today’s hectic society we have seen an increase in cases involving mental health problems. Sadly, over the last year we have supported several employers on a number of tragic incidents involving suicide, both of employees and also where guests have taken their own lives in hotel rooms and been discovered by a team member.
Responding to the issue, we have launched a campaign to break the silence surrounding the toxic mix of mental health problems, addiction and self-harm. Problems do not tend to start off big, they build over time so helping people start conversations as soon as possible is the best way we can help.
How you can help
Normalise conversations about mental health
How you do this will depend on your company culture, but we have some resources to help you break the ice and start conversations. The key thing is to let your team know that you will listen, never judge and help them get the support they need.
Share our Suicide Prevention film
19-year-old Nyall Brown took his own life in 2018 without knowing of the support HA and other organisations could provide. Nyall, a front of house manager from Norfolk, was a young man with his whole life ahead of him and his parents want to share his story in the hope that others will speak out before their anxiety takes them down the same fatal path he chose. While the film is hard-hitting it has a positive message encouraging your team to seek help. Click here to watch the film.
Talk about the relationship between mental health problems, addiction and self-harm
Often addictive behaviours are the first sign that something is not right. Drugs and alcohol are a problem in our industry that we need to address. It is not just substances though, we have seen many cases of gambling addiction and even people becoming hooked on energy drinks. Our awareness film features high-profile chefs Phil Howard and Tom Kerridge who have both experienced their own addiction problems. Their straight-talking honesty is intended to resonate with your team and get them to think about their own behaviours.
Download our suicide awareness help-sheet
This is a short document packed with information designed to give you and your teams the confidence they need to talk about difficult issues.
Consider an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
HA’s EAP is fully bespoke for the hospitality industry and gives your team instant access to trained clinicians. We can also provide support with money issues, children and families, legal concerns and addiction services, all for just £5 per employee per year. Click here to find out more.
HA has a number of courses that are fully bespoke to the needs of hospitality operators:
HA there to help 24/7
By listening and engaging with a team member in need you are already doing something fantastic, but do remember that you are not expected to have all the answers. If a conversation with a colleague concerns you, speak to your manager, or call us – our 24-hour helpline gives free and confidential access to trained clinicians who can get the help you need.
At Hospitality Action we have got your back whenever life takes a wrong turn. Whether it is serious illness, mental health problems, financial difficulties, family issues or addiction, we are always here to help with whatever challenges you may face.
Hospitality Action’s helpline is free, confidential and available 24/7
Call 0808 802 0282
Hospitality Action was established in 1837 and has since offered vital assistance to all who work, or have worked within hospitality in the UK. The charity continues to provide free support to everyone in the industry, regardless of job or the nature of their problem.
Facts speak for themselves
Recent research commissioned by TalkOut to explore mental health in the workplace reveals the following:
67% of Brits have suffered mental health issues that affected them at work, but only 35% felt supported by their employers.
68% of employees believe that, if they told their boss they were suffering from some kind of mental health issue it would have a negative impact on their job.
Bosses agree, as 84% of senior managers say that employees risk missing out on promotions if they admit to having mental health issues.
51% of senior managers consider a worker who is mentally unwell to be a liability.
65% of senior managers think that talking about mental health at work is a sign of weakness.
21% of senior managers have felt that a member of staff who claimed to be mentally unwell was only saying so because they were not good at their job or wanted time off work.
Jill Mead, Co-Founder and Managing Director of TalkOut, comments: “The findings from our research are really quite shocking and clearly demonstrate that not enough is being done within the workplace to reduce the long-standing stigma and discrimination around mental health.
“If we’re going to make any progress, mental health needs to stop being seen as a taboo, particularly in professional environments, and there needs to be an understanding and acknowledgement that people with mental health conditions can often thrive at work with the right support.”
TalkOut is the voice of Mental Health in the workplace. The organisation has one mission: to make it okay not to be okay in the workplace. TalkOut aims to disrupt the way mental health is viewed and encourage businesses to take the mental health of their employees just as seriously as their physical health to help people thrive at work.