Time to put mental health words into action

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nitty gritty: The Compass Project’s David Paulin says hospitality needs more practical solutions
Nitty gritty: The Compass Project’s David Paulin says hospitality needs more practical solutions

Related tags: mental health

The organiser of a project focusing on mental health in hospitality said he realised the pub sector still has a long way to go in breaking down the attached stigmas.

David Paulin, the manager of the Compass Project, is helping to fund training courses for publicans.

The project organises free training for licensees to become mental health first aiders and then goes back into pubs to run arts workshops that explore the topic with theatre. 

A survey by drinks industry charity The Benevolent found that just under half (49%) of respondents believed their company had no mental health support mechanism in place, or none that they were aware of. 

Paulin said while progress has been made on increasing support for pub staff, there was still a lot more that could be done.

He explained: “I don't want to sound negative but I feel that mental health has become a theoretical conversation, it needs to move into being a practical one. 

“In terms of how we talk about mental health, in theory, we are very progressive but whenever it boils down to the nitty gritty, what are we doing to protect ourselves, our employers, our employees, the people who serve us in the bar?”

“People are all for mental health but when you say let’s do something about it to protect people’s mental health, it’s a bit more difficult.

“The training makes people better informed in different mental health struggles, how you can help that person, how you can give advice and listen and support in a more meaningful way. 

“It also gives advice on how to deal with live events like a panic attack or different things like that.”

Both hospitality employers and employees often felt there was no point in sourcing mental health support given the high turnover of staff, Paulin said.

David and Maria (operator of the Queen's Arms, London) have raised money to fund mental health training for publicans
David and Maria (operator of the Queen's Arms, London) have raised money to fund mental health training for publicans

Support networks

He said: “I do believe that because of the nature of hospitality and the way in which people often see it as a job that is just a means to an end – like it's a temporary job in between other aspirations that they have – they tend to not think about putting in place the same support network that you would have in an office environment. 

“That's an issue with the culture on a whole, employees and employers think ‘well I'll only be here for a couple of months so I don't need mental health support while I'm here’.

“But in those couple of months, you don't know what can happen to your mental state.”

The Queens Arms, Walthamstow, east London, hosted an arts night that raised £1,000 for the training, which is almost fully funded.

The Compass Project is being run in partnership with two registered charities, Kelly’s Cause Foundation and PostPieces.

Related topics: Training

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