Mental wellbeing across Australia is on the decline and the hospitality industry is no different.

A recent study found mental illness costs the Australian economy $60 billion every year, but for many, the cost is much greater with suicide taking eight Australian’s lives every day in 2018.

Working in pubs and clubs can be an extremely stressful workplace. Last year, Australia’s leading suicide prevention charity, R U OK? found 80 per cent of hospitality workers in Australia agree that mental health issues are challenging the industry.

R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton said: “Whether it’s front or back of house, everyone has a part to play in looking out for those they work alongside… chances are one of your work family needs to talk.

“We can all have our eyes and ears open to notice the signs that someone may be struggling, consider the right space and time to genuinely ask someone, ‘Are you OK?’, and learn how to navigate a conversation if that person says, ‘No, I’m not’.”

The food service industry has led an initiative called #FairKitchens this aims to highlight the importance of mental health in the industry and in partnership with Unilever Food Solutions provides resources to help foster a supportive culture in the workplace to improve employee mental health.

Yezdi Daruwalla, Managing Director of Unilever Food Solutions and former professional chef said: “Working in bars and pubs can be a pressure cooker for factors that undermine mental health. It’s common for late nights and unsociable hours to cause work-family conflicts and sleep deprivation, which can also disconnect the individual from their most important personal relationships.

“This isolation combined with a burnout culture that’s common when working in pubs and clubs that are typically high-stress, fast-paced, and competitive results in an individual paying a serious cost to their mental health.

“We need to lead the industry away from these toxic cultures and embrace more supportive and collaborative environments.

“We’re asking pub and bar owners to align with #FairKitchens and sit down with their staff to encourage a safe space for open conversation around mental health.”

You can find out more about #FairKitchen here, and here’s more information about how to become a supporter of the initiative.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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