Sector 'faced with mental health epidemic'

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Under pressure: pub and restaurant workers have had to deal with unprecedented stress this year, reflected in the uptake of a text-based support service (image: Getty/Svetlana123)
Under pressure: pub and restaurant workers have had to deal with unprecedented stress this year, reflected in the uptake of a text-based support service (image: Getty/Svetlana123)

Related tags: mental health, Coronavirus, Legislation, Health and safety, Chef, Staff, Training

A sector-focused mental health text service has reported anxiety and stress are rife among chefs and other hospitality staff.

The Burnt Chef Project’s text service has supported more than 100 individuals working in the pub and restaurant sector this year. 

Individuals can talk to the service, monitored by Shout volunteers, at any time of day by texting BURNTCHEF to 85258.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) has seen a spotlight shone on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the wellbeing of those working in pubs.

Low moods

Half of those texting the Burnt Chef number were experiencing feelings of anxiety and stress while more than 30% reported experiencing low moods.

What’s more, just under one in ten (8%) contacted the service and discussed thoughts of suicide.

With the pandemic taking a toll on social lives, some 27% got in touch to talk about loneliness or isolation while 19% wanted to talk about worries concerning relationships.

Those contacting the service are directed towards further resources and longer-term support.

Previously, some 4 in 5 individuals in the sector had experienced mental health issues while working in the trade, according to a study conducted by The Burnt Chef Project in May 2020.

While many individuals had experienced mental health challenges prior to the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown exacerbated the concerns of many.

Strain on industry

Many workers have been faced with uncertain professional futures after being furloughed or losing a job, as well as socially isolated. 

Founder of the Burnt Chef Project Kris Hall said: “The past year has put enormous strain on our industry, and this has been highlighted by the initial take up of our text help service. It’s fantastic to see our SMS number not only being used but also that people are finding it useful to navigate mental health issues.

“The wellbeing of staff should be at the top of the priority list for any thriving business, and to know we’ve supported over 100 individuals within the first three months is fantastic."

Hall added: "We’re on a journey to fight years of stigma and challenge the perceptions associated with mental illness. 

“This innovative type of support service is vital and we're thrilled to see this initial success. It’s just one of the ways we can support the fantastic workforce that make up the industry and we’re looking forward to seeing the initial success grow as we move forward in our fight to address the mental health epidemic we’re faced with.”

Related topics: Health & safety

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