More mental support needed for hospitality staff, says charity

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Offer of help: Hospitality Health wants Scottish employers to be more proactive with staff wellness
Offer of help: Hospitality Health wants Scottish employers to be more proactive with staff wellness

Related tags Health Stress

Further support is needed for Scottish hospitality workers who experience mental health problems, a founder of a new charity said.

Hospitality Health​ will provide individuals with resources and signpost them to support services, in addition to encouraging employers to sign up to its Employment Assistance Programme (EAP) and a wellness charter.

Chairman Gordon McIntyre said: “There is a need for some further support in the sector, particularly for those vulnerable people with mental health and anxiety issues because very often those things spiral into various addictions, whether it is drugs, gambling, alcohol.

“There is not a 'one-stop shop' that you can really go to to get some help and support to get you back on track.”

The charity provides a half-day workshop to boost young people’s resilience to provide coping techniques in tricky times,

“We find [young people] just don't have the capacity now or the skills for bouncing back from bad news, whether it is bad news in the family, someone diagnosed with an illness, whether it is about an assessment at college that they don't do so well in. They just seem to throw in the towel and can't cope,” McIntyre explained.

The charity is based in Glasgow
The charity is based in Glasgow

Employment Assistance Programme

After discussing the vision for Hospitality Health with England-based charity Hospitality Action, the new organisation decided to promote its EAP.

The programme allows staff members access to a 24-hour free helpline and counselling sessions, for a small charge to the employer.

“One of the simple things you can do – as well as paying them a reasonable wage and not making them work too many hours – would be to take out this EAP,” McIntyre said.

“It is a win-win for employers and employees,” he said, as employees feel valued in their job which encourages retention. “It is the way forward.”

Businesses can pledge to a wellness charter, which commits them to “creating a supportive and open culture, where colleagues are able to talk about mental health” and “ensuring that our employees feel safe in disclosing any mental health conditions”.

Hospitality heroes 

Hospitality Health hopes to recognise employers who go the extra mile, including firms who “understand that people can have down days and difficult days and do not penalise and challenge them in return”, its chairman said.

The charity is focused on helping with a multitude of issues because they often come as interlinked problems.

“You cannot really talk about one thing without talking about the other,” explained McIntyre.

“Addiction often comes hand-in-hand with anxiety in the sector as stress leads many to go out drinking after a shift.

"If they start drinking at 11 or midnight, they then want to get more drinks, then go to a casino. When they're in the casino they start to gamble, as they start to gamble they spend more money they have not got.

“That night becomes the next night, the next week, and it becomes a spiral, that they find it very difficult to get out of.”

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