The hospitality industry is by no means the only section of society where the issue of mental health illness is regarded as taboo. Yet it is still shocking that a massive 90% of people working in the sector regard it as something that they can not openly talk about within the workplace, according to research conducted for our Open Minds campaign.
For the plethora of hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars and catering companies which pride themselves on providing a warm and caring environment for their guests and customers, it is something of a contradiction that the same amount of thought is not given to looking after the mental wellbeing of staff. It may be that there is a lack of understanding of how devastating the impact of mental health issues can be, but whatever the reason, it is one that the industry needs to address.
Mental health illness can create all sorts of practical difficulties within the workplace, with one in six suffering from some form of anxiety, depression or stress at a financial cost to UK industry of £26b.
Recognising that mental health issues exist and talking openly with employees is the starting point in dealing with the subject. High-profile sufferers such as Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax, as well as chef Johnnie Mountain who has spoken here about his struggles with depression over the past few weeks, should be applauded for helping to confront the stigma head on.
We hope that openly discussing mental health illness on these pages will have provided both employers and employees with the encouragement to speak out and start considering how they can support those who may need help. Our article on page 26 provides some excellent examples of the good that is already being done and which others can emulate.
By Janet Harmer
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