With chefs under so much stress and anxiety affecting more an more people in and out of the kitchen, one Sacramento chef has started to take positive action in his restaurant to promote wellness and wants to take the movement nationwide.
High profile chefs have been raising the issue of mental health in the industry for some time and with the loss of Anthony Bourdain still keenly felt, there is at least now a conversation about staff welfare that didn’t exist before.
Yet there is still a lack of guidance or suggestions as to what to do to ensure a healthier working environment in the restaurant industry. Sure, working fewer hours, making service calmer and treating staff with more respect are things we can do, but as restaurant owners face together margins, more costs and more stress themselves, it can be difficult to change the whole culture of an organisation.
Researchers say that service employees who rely on tips are more susceptible to depression and stress than any other employees and according to Federal data substance abuse remains higher in the restaurant industry than in any other field.
Sacramento chef owner Patrick Mulvaney has taken steps to change things. He has developed a mental health awareness programme together with local health services to create “I Got Your Back”. It’s a system that allows employees to anonymously share how their feeling and encourages both staff and employers to empathise with and support each other.
By removing any stigma associated with saying “I’m not OK,” and asking for help, Mulvaney hopes to prevent any mental health issues developing to a point where any staff member feels like there’s no way out.
There’s a lot of heart in the “I’ve Got Your Back” programme and with the scheme already exhibiting real successes there’s scope for development into a nationwide movement.
There is of course no panacea for the mental health issues surrounding the service industry but sharing your problems and talking about them are a good place to start.