Mental health crisis

60 per cent of hospitality workers say workplace does not offer mental health training

A study into UK adults’ mental health during the pandemic by mentalhealth.org has found 13 per cent of UK adults experienced suicidal thoughts in February 2021, rising from 8 per cent in April 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Within the hospitality industry, a recent study by the charity, Hospitality Action, has raised concerns around the mental health and wellbeing of workers in the sector. The study found that just 38 per cent said they felt positive about their future in the industry, and more than 60 per cent reported feeling stressed about the future. On top of this, a study by the online training provider, High Speed Training, reveals almost three quarters (73 per cent) of hospitality workers say they have struggled with their mental health during the pandemic. The reasons for that, more than a third (35 per cent) of respondents say, was their work.

Worryingly, as hospitality reopens in full force, nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of hospitality workers said they remain concerned about their fellow employees’ mental health too. A further 44 per cent said they don’t have anyone to talk to in confidence about their mental health at work.

The current staff shortage in the industry as businesses struggle to manage resource and cater to the huge influx in customer demand is also having an impact on employee wellbeing.

Josh Molloy, co-owner at Paradise Tap and Co in Harrogate commented: “I have worked 100 hours in one week. We struggle to remove our minds from “work mode” and so we often see only work situations in our dreams/nightmares. Wake up, go to work (14-16hrs), go home, go to sleep, dream about work, wake up….

“We can’t and shouldn’t have to work in this way, soon we will have to draw a line and place the mental health of the team ahead of the success of the company and perhaps decide to open less hours or days.”

Tim Etherington-Judge, founder of Healthy Hospo, which works to build a happier, healthier hospitality industry, commented: “As we come out of lockdown and begin our journey to a normally functioning society, the mental, and physical health of hospitality workers needs to be put front and centre. Hospitality is not the service of food and drink, it’s hosting, making people feel welcome, and providing amazing guest experiences, this can only be achieved with staff who are healthy, happy and have good mental health.

“We are also experiencing a staffing crisis in the industry as Covid and Brexit combine to create a chronic shortage of people seeking employment in hospitality. Employers are going to have to compete hard to attract new staff into their businesses, and the industry, and providing great working environments, good mental health support, and better financial incentives are going to be key to that.”

It’s clear the industry has a long way to go when it comes to providing support for employees, with over half (51 per cent) of those surveyed saying fellow employees at their place of work don’t hold any mental health awareness training or qualifications.

A further 59 per cent said their workplace does not offer mental health training. However despite this, nearly half (44 per cent) said they would take part in mental health awareness training if it was made available to them.

Sarah Taylor, hospitality industry expert at High Speed Training commented: “It’s extremely worrying that this new data shows how many employees in the hospitality industry have really struggled with their mental health during the pandemic, and that it continues to have a detrimental impact with the current staff shortages across the sector.

“It’s vital that businesses and industry bodies do everything they can to provide, and cover the cost of training around mental health awareness, so there are dedicated team members for employees to turn to.

“The first step is providing employees with someone to talk to, who can then provide support and guidance, and escalate issues when required,” Taylor added. “We have mental health awareness training courses suited to employees and managers. Both courses are open to any industry, including hospitality, and include information on the responsibilities and duties of all employers with regards to mental health. We also look at the unique difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic has created and provide specific strategies for these.”

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