A new mental health training program is set to tackle the significant challenges faced by chefs and hospitality workers. The Burnt Chef Project, in collaboration with Bristol City Council, will offer free support sessions to combat the stigma surrounding mental health in the kitchen. The program aims to fill the gap in accessible support for individuals struggling with poor mental health and encourage open communication within the industry. By providing practical skills and advice on work-related stress, the initiative hopes to address the high levels of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse prevalent in the sector.
Recognizing the demanding and exploitative nature of Bristol’s night-time economy, The Burnt Chef Project has partnered with the Bristol Night’s Thrive at Night program to deliver six free sessions led by mental health professionals. These sessions aim to educate participants on the impact of poor mental health within the hospitality sector and dispel common myths surrounding mental illness. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, suicide, and substance abuse. Additionally, a 24/7 text support system has been established to provide ongoing assistance to those in need.
Kris Hall, the founder of The Burnt Chef Project, emphasizes the magnitude of the problem of poor mental health within the hospitality industry. Drawing from personal experience, he aims to create a safe space for individuals to share their struggles and eliminate the fear and intimidation often associated with discussing mental health. Hall believes that expecting people to function like machines is detrimental to industries and highlights the need for a more compassionate approach.
Chef Tom Green, who has witnessed the tragic loss of colleagues within the industry due to poor mental health, believes that The Burnt Chef Project could have made a difference in their lives. Green acknowledges the challenging nature of working in hospitality, particularly during holidays and while being away from family. He also recognizes the prevalent work hard, play hard culture and the associated issues of alcohol and substance abuse.
Mayor Marvin Rees emphasizes the importance of providing support and prioritizing the mental health and well-being of those working in the hospitality sector. Acknowledging the high-pressure nature of these jobs, Rees believes that partnerships like the one with The Burnt Chef Project will ensure that workers have access to the support they need.
Carly Heath, the night-time economy advisor for Bristol City Council, expresses enthusiasm about bringing The Burnt Chef Project to the city and collaborating to develop a new approach to mental health training. The program will host sessions throughout the year, providing valuable insight and support to individuals in the industry.
Overall, The Burnt Chef Project’s mental health training program aims to address the pervasive issue of poor mental health within the hospitality industry. By offering accessible support and education, the project hopes to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness and create a more compassionate and supportive environment for chefs and hospitality workers.