Do Your Employees Need Mental Health Training?

Posted on June 13, 2017 by Michelle Locke

When it comes to training in your restaurant, it sometimes easy to overlook the issues that may affect your employees, such as time management, healthcare, and, of course, mental health. But with our focus on employee morale this week, we wanted to write about the need to provide mental health training to your employees.

We posted last week about why chefs and kitchen staff need access to support. (You can read that blog post here.) To reiterate, 10% of restaurant workers experience episodes of depression—compared to the national average of around 3-5% of people working in full-time jobs. Women in the restaurant industry are more likely to experience (or perhaps just report) episodes of depression, at around 15% of female restaurant workers having at least one depressive episode a year. (You can read more about work-life balance in the restaurant industry here.)

To us, those numbers are astounding and speak to a gap in the restaurant industry in regards to employee morale and training.

You might wonder why you should offer mental health training & resources in your restaurant. The short answer is, of course, that it improves employee morale. Employees who have access to the resources they need to both be functional in their lives and jobs and to seek help if they need it are going to be better employees. Period. They’ll trust you to listen to them, to take their lives seriously (beyond the capacity of simply being an employee), and to offer them support when they need it. This works to create a better restaurant culture, to improve employee morale, and to build trust within your restaurant.

Here are a few ideas for providing training on mental health in your restaurant.

  • Include materials in your training that list the signs of depression. Here is a great article from Forbes about recognize signs of depression in the workplace. And here is an overview of depression, including its symptoms, from the Mayo Clinic.
  • Post a list of resources for employees in a common area and make employees aware of these during pre-shift meetings.
  • Encourage communication after incidents that may bother employees, such as an aggressive customer, a major mistake, or a difficult shift. Encourage all employees to support each other.

Mental health training hinges on a few ideas: improving management practices; encouraging communication; and ensuring that employees feel comfortable reaching out to their managers, fellow employees, or even you (the restaurant owner).