“Stay at home” – Perhaps one of the most frequently used phrases in the world right now. Of course it’s absolutely essential that we do this, but add ‘social distancing’ and ‘isolation’ into the mix, day after day and from every news outlet going, and these instructions can instil feelings of loneliness. Consequently, this can have negative and far-reaching effects on mental health. But there is help available, along with some simple practices to help stay positive and lower stress levels.
The hospitality industry has been arguably impacted more than any other by the Covid-19 crisis. Whilst the consequences of this cannot, and should not, be ignored, there are sources of hope, positivity and good old fashioned community spirit out there. In partnership with FFT.ie, we’re working to recognise and reward just a handful of these. Check them out here.
A restored faith in humanity is one thing, but communication with the ‘outside world’ is also vital. It’s important to connect with others, including your colleagues as well as other peers from within the industry, as mutual understanding will go a long way to ensuring you don’t feel alone at this time. When you do connect digitally and socially, ensure that your sources are reliable and reputable and consider limiting your news intake to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Chefs and hospitality workers are so used to dealing with people – it’s at the heart of our industry – so consider that ‘physical distancing’ doesn’t have to mean ‘social distancing’ in the literal sense. Keep your communication channels with the outside world firmly open to help retain a socially connected frame of mind.
If you’re an employer, consider the following in regards to supporting the mental wellbeing of your employees at this time:
- Communicate openly and honestly. If they are to be stood down, give them the assurance that you will get them back in employment as soon as things are back to normal. Check in with them every couple of weeks to ask how they are doing and continue to remind them that you are looking forward to being back in business with them.
- Be accessible. Make sure that all of your staff have your number, and you’ve got theirs—even if it is just to send out a group text to check in. Set up a group chat where you can communicate easily and support each other through these difficult times.
- Encourage them to look for any casual employment they can find to help them temporarily make ends meet. While it may not be easy to find jobs now, there are some industries that might be looking for casual staff, for example, food delivery businesses and aged care kitchens. Businesses that are deemed essential and remain open, such as food retailers, might be under extra pressure due to possible staff illness or increase in demand.
- Guide them to resources available online, where information and further support is available. Fáilte Ireland has launched a range of free Employee Wellbeing supports, including the ‘I Am Here: Rapid Response Service’ and Employee Assistance Programme offering consoling support. Visit their website for further information. Pieta House also offers free support services and therapy over the phone.
- Don’t forget to look after yourself as well as your team. Keep up to date with the latest information and guidance from the government, but remember to keep yourself fit, healthy, well-rested and well-fed.
The future is uncertain, but as a community and industry we are #StrongerTogether.
For more information and support, consult government-backed resources such as HSE – who also have some excellent advice on managing mental health on their website. Chef Network are also doing some great work to connect and support Irish chefs at this difficult time – check out their website.