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January 31, 2019

Launched yesterday at Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow and backed by over 100 key industry figures, Hospitality Health aims to improve the health and wellbeing of those in the tourism industry.

Working in hospitality can be a very tough gig both physically and mentally.

Gordon Ramsay's fiery outbursts and the late Anthony Bourdain's tales of kitchen debauchery may boost both TV ratings and book sales but they are hardly indicative of a healthy and happy workplace.

You might enjoy seeing Ramsay on the verge of busting a blood vessel as he berates a fellow chef for the consistency of his velouté but you wouldn't want to be working in the same kitchen at the time.

The rage-fuelled chef has become a lot rarer over the last few years but mental health issues in hospitality have not.

Drug and alcohol abuse, stress, anxiety, depression, gambling and anger issues will not be unheard of to anyone who has worked in hospitality and this new charity hopes to tackle the problem.

Peter McKenna, chef patron from the Gannet restaurant; Rosaleen Gillespie, head of people development at Buzzworks Holdings; Gordon McIntyre, chairman Hospitality Health, Namara Robertson, team leader at Grand Central Hotel, and over 100 industry members came together to back the new charity and put staff welfare first. The picture above shows Peter McKenna. Gordon McIntyre and and Namara Robertson.

Raise mental health awareness

The charity, the first of its kind in Scotland, aims to address mental health awareness through a dedicated online portal and 24 hour manned helpline.

The charity will work in partnership with Hospitality Action to provide specialist, independent, confidential advice, support and assistance.

Through its Wellness Charter, the charity will encourage employers to better understand stress as well as promoting positive change and behaviour.

Businesses that commit to the Wellness Charter will adopt an Employee Assistance Programme designed specifically to assist hospitality people for one-on-one confidential support, counselling and crisis intervention.

Hospitality Health has started collaborating with other leading industry groups to provide a one-stop multi-solution for supporting the industry. Hospitality Industry Trust Scotland, Lifelink and Hospitality Action all backed the launch with keynote speeches and a welcoming nod to improving staff welfare.

Tackle mental health taboo

The charity believes that recognising stress and understanding emotions is essential for employers and that giving them the tools and skills to understand stress will help tackle the taboo of mental health.

 Gordon McIntyre, chairman of Hospitality Health, says:

'The hospitality culture needs to change, and we can start to make a change from today.'

'Let’s create a culture which shows we truly value our staff and care about their wellbeing. We need to put health and wellbeing at the top of our agenda and really let staff see that we are taking it seriously. We want to encourage more staff to eat well, take regular exercise and drink responsibly. Simple measures such as using notice boards, staff portals and social media will help promote that.'

'This may take a bit of time, but small differences can deliver big changes. It won’t happen overnight, and I’m sure it will be tough, but we can reach a balance on this. The industry needs to sit up and take notice and if we can get each and every person a little physically and mentally healthier, whilst still maintaining our love and passion for hospitality, things will be so much better and more sustainable too.'

Peter Mckenna, chef patron at The Gannet, said: 'Hospitality Health is driving change and we look forward to supporting the innovative work they do. Everybody experiences stress at some point in their life, even more so in hospitality, and anything that helps to address the work-life balance is welcomed.'

More information can be found  online: