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Mental health: it’s time we take care of our own

By Lawson Mountstevens

- Last updated on GMT

Just the start: anything that can be done to raise awareness of mental health problems is to be welcomed according to Lawson Mountstevens
Just the start: anything that can be done to raise awareness of mental health problems is to be welcomed according to Lawson Mountstevens
As an industry, we need to recognise and act on the fact that working on the hospitality front line can be stressful, according to Lawson Mountstevens, managing director Star Pubs & Bars, Heineken UK.

We all know people – friends, family members, and colleagues in the trade – affected by mental health problems. Anything that can be done to raise awareness of this issue, such as Mental Health Awareness Week next week, is to be welcomed.

Awareness of mental health is just the start. As an industry, and as individuals working in it, we need to recognise and act on the fact that working on the hospitality front line can be stressful at times. Getting food out on time, dealing with belligerent customers, and the daily grind of running a pub business are just some of the pressures we all deal with day in, day out. That’s not to mention any personal challenges outside of work which people might not feel able to talk about.

At Heineken UK, we realise that talking about mental health can leave people feeling uncomfortable. We’re working to tackle this stigma, and, in 2017, signed the ‘Time to Change Pledge’ – a public declaration to show our commitment to get colleagues talking about mental health. This included training 30 colleagues in our business to become mental health champions who can spot signs of mental health problems and provide initial confidential support. We also use our Heineken Race to the Tower event to facilitate conversations and the links between physical, social and mental wellbeing. Next month, I’ll be joining 300 colleagues for our 52-mile challenge in the Cotswolds.

Pubs rightly pride themselves on being warm and welcoming environments at the heart of their communities. Pubs are places where customers feel they can share their worries – be it with one another or with those behind the bar. But it’s time we took care of our own too.

Hospitality businesses need to be self-critical and examine what support can be put in place to  provide assistance for staff. Being able to point to support services, or ensuring someone in the pub is trained for people to speak to, are just two small steps we can make.

That is why I’m passionate about the work of our partners – the Licensed Trade Charity (LTC) and The Benevolent – and the work they do to support those in need. The LTC provides free training courses across the UK to help staff in pubs spot signs of mental health. Its help line gives anyone in the industry access to counsellors who can help with any problem, at any time. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be delivering their support packs to all of our pubs.

In doing something about mental health, we’ll create a safer and more inclusive workplace for the hundreds of thousands of people working in UK pubs. And by helping each other, we’ll also help many customers’ lives we touch – day in, day out.

Related topics: Health & safety

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