A study by the UK Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), ‘Service With(out) a Smile’, has found that nearly a quarter (24%) of hospitality staff have sought psychological support or medication.

More than four out of every five (84%) of hospitality workers report having increased stress believed to be from their job, and 45% of participants said they would not recommend working in the hospitality industry.

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Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe the hospitality sector does not take care of its employees, with 74% having experienced verbal abuse from a customer. Only 10% were given health and wellbeing support or access to mentoring, health champions or mental health first aiders.

The research concludes that more work needs to be done for employee’s mental health and wellbeing, including employers offering a support package to protect mental health, improvement of employment rights and more research into how the hospitality sector can learn from other sectors about workers’ health and wellbeing.

There have been a number of initiatives set up to support the health and wellbeing of hospitality workers. Hospitality Action set up an Employee Assistance Programme,  Me, Myself in Mind run classes on mental health awareness for the hospitality industry, and Healthy Hospo has teamed up with Love Drinks to run health and wellness programmes for bartenders and managers.

RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said: “At some point in our lives many of us will have experienced working in the hospitality industry, so we understand how demanding this working environment can be. Having access to good mental health support is essential for workplaces, and we are pleased that there are a number of initiatives being rolled out across the sector.

“However, it is clear from our research that this support is not reaching everyone, with two-thirds of hospitality workers reporting that they don’t believe the sector does enough to look after its staff. It is also concerning that around a quarter of staff have had to resort to psychological intervention or medication to deal with work-related stress. Investing in staff health and wellbeing is not just the right thing to do for individuals, but it will ultimately benefit the hospitality sector in the long term.”

The Springboard Charity chief executive officer Anne Pierce said: “Mental health is a topic being discussed more and more nowadays and it’s extremely important that we begin making changes to our working practices to ensure that it’s kept at the forefront. Mental health is just as important as physical health and its imperative for hospitality employers to recognise this and to value the wellbeing of the hospitality workforce.”