Features / mental health

Hospitality and mental health

By grace hillier, Wednesday Sep 4, 2019

Working in the hospitality industry is about looking after others. But what about looking after yourself?

An event taking place at Hart’s Bakery on Thursday includes a panel discussion which will be talking about the issues surrounding mental health and how to combat them, specifically aimed at people who work in hospitality.

It’s the second such event taking place in the UK following a successful debut event in Manchester. Following that format, the panel discussion will take place after a coffee cupping session.

Event co-organiser, Sonali Taylor, who has worked in the coffee industry for many years, said that the first event had gone “really, really well” and that there was a “nice, relaxed environment” which is so important when opening up about and dealing with difficult issues.

“You cannot pour from an empty cup – take time for you!”

The Bristol event will kick off at 6pm on Thursday, September 5 with the coffee cupping. This tasting of different coffees aims to provides a chance to socialise before facing the more difficult issues in the panel discussion afterwards.

The team at Hart’s Bakery will provide a selection of delicious pastries and nibbles, and there will be coffee provided by a range of roasteries from across the UK.

Panellists will be hospitality workers from a range of different backgrounds who will hold a discussion on mental health in their industry, with time for questions and ideas afterwards.

It promises to be an informal setting designed to feel safe, allowing attendees to feel relaxed and able to tell their own stories and share their own experiences.

The previous event dealt with “a lot of tough subjects, but Sonali said that she “felt such positive feedback by opening the conversation” about mental health in the hospitality industry.

The co-organiser of the event is Sam Ellis, a barista at Full Court Press on Broad Street who also works part-time as wholesale manager at Triple Co. Roast in Stokes Croft.

“Don’t get me wrong, hospitality is an amazing field to work in,” he said. “It’s dynamic, fun and full of creative and passionate people, and we really want to emphasise the positive sides to working in hospitality.

“However, statistically speaking, it’s also an industry that can have negative impacts on people’s mental health. Our aim is to bring people together in a comfortable environment so we can talk through some of these issues, so we can spend more time enjoying the jobs we love.”

The initial idea for the event came to Sonali following experiences that she and her partner had been through, and “how we felt our bosses had dealt with situations, both good and bad”.

Sonali and Sam want the event to be for anyone customer-based, from a barista to a hotel manager.

In her own experience, Sonali feels that lots of people working in the hospitality industry struggle with “having to be happy all the time” when dealing with customers and this was partly why she felt it was important to have this type of discussion within this industry.

She and Sam want to make sure that everyone has the right tools to deal with any and all issues they might face now or in the future.

So what needs to change? Sonali laughs as she admitted she didn’t know – there are too many issues to tackle and all of them difficult to solve.

She says that this is the question they are “still trying to answer” and that she felt the important thing to remember is that there are “small changes everyone can make” and that’s what the event is about. She added: “It’s a team effort.”

Tickets are limited so as to make sure the event is not too big, allowing a friendly, informal atmosphere, so if you wish to attend book your tickets soon.

Hospitality & Mental Health takes place at Hart’s Bakery from 6pm on Thursday, September 5. For tickets, visit hospitalityandmentalhealth.eventbrite.com. Tickets are paid for by donation, with all money raised going to Papyrus, a charity for the prevention of young suicide.

Read more: Bringing positivity to negative emotions

Related articles