Hospitality Action (HA) has teamed up with Compass UK & Ireland to call on hospitality employers to sign up to a year-long focus on protecting the mental health of their workers.
The industry charity and contract caterer have launched their major new mental health awareness programme on Blue Monday, said to be the most depressing day of the year.
The ambition is for the campaign to dispel the stigma around mental health and equip operators with the knowledge, research and tools to support their employees and safeguard against situations that could lead to a mental health crisis.
HA's chief executive Mark Lewis said: "In the last two years, HA has seen a marked increase in cases involving a mental health problem, and sadly we have seen the aftermath of far too many suicides – particularly those of young men.
"Mental health problems and self-harm are currently a major problem in businesses across the UK. We want to act quickly to provide practical, simple information and tools that are easy to implement and can help break the taboos that surround talking about our mental health."
Research conducted by HA in 2018 found that four in five hospitality workers found their job stressful some or most of the time, with half saying it was stressful most or all of the time.
More than half of those asked (56%) said they do not make their employers aware of mental health problems. Most seriously of all, suicide – already the single biggest killer of men under 45 in UK – has a disproportionate prevalence in the hospitality sector.
This new programme will provide helpsheets and courses for managers, instructional videos, educational posters, case studies highlighting best practise, awareness training, mental health champion training and a specific awareness programme aimed at reducing male suicides.
It will also seek to normalise conversations about mental health across all those working in the hospitality industry.
Robin Mills, managing director, Compass Group UK & Ireland, added: "We work in a brilliant industry which provides fantastic opportunities, but we mustn't shy away from the fact that it can also be challenging. That's why programmes like the one HA are launching today are so vitally important and I'm thrilled that Compass is joining forces with Hospitality Action to help drive it forward.
"As a large employer I believe we can make a positive difference in helping our people as well as our colleagues across the industry in managing their mental health. By raising awareness of this issue and providing access to information, I hope it will encourage people to seek help when they need it - the more that can be done to enable people to speak up and get support, the better."
The campaign page can be found at: https://www.hospitalityaction.org.uk/get-help/mental-health-campaign/