Research has shown foodservice workers to be at greater risk than most for depression, substance abuse and anxiety. While unusual hours, a fast-paced environment and dealing with tricky customers are part of the job, unacceptable behaviour inside kitchens such as bullying, intimidation and less than perfect working conditions are not.
Mental Health Month is a welcome opportunity for everyone associated with the foodservice industry to consider the role they play in contributing to a happy and supportive kitchen culture.
Together with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), let’s take a look at what mental health is and how we can deal with depression and anxiety together.
What is mental health?
Mental health is the wellness of your mind and emotional well-being. According to the Western Cape Department of Health, mental health
"... is not merely about the absence of mental illness, but rather the presence of mental health and well-being. Mental health is about how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others and how you deal with the opportunities, difficulties and challenges of everyday life."
Perhaps you have an aching back, occasional headaches or suffer from seasonal allergies? Similarly, you could have mental health issues that can affect your mood and how you react to situations in your daily life. Some may be milder, like anxiety at work when there’s a lot of pressure, while others can affect you more severely, like depression.
What does mental health look like in the restaurant industry?
Anyone who has worked in a restaurant or hotel will tell you about the physical health problems that can come from working long shifts. Standing for hours, lifting heavy items, straining your body and working with sharp equipment can all lead to accidents or injuries. Similarly, other workplace dangers could be affecting your mental health and you may not even be aware of them.
According to global research conducted by FairKitchens:
More than just the "blues"
Life is full of emotional ups and downs and everyone experiences the "blues" from time to time. But when the "down" times are long lasting or interfere with an individual’s ability to function at home or at work, that person may be suffering from a common, serious illness – depression, anxiety or both.
It is important to remember that experiencing depression or anxiety is okay. That is why FairKitchens and SADAG partnered to create the FairKitchens 24/7 toll-free helpline – available to you, any time you need to talk.
All calls are confidential and you can remain completely anonymous.
Call 0800 006 333 at any time
As well as free telephone counselling, callers can also access further services through the helpline such as nearby support groups, crisis interventions and face-to-face counselling. You don’t have to negotiate this trying time alone.