5 Tips for improving workplace mental health

It’s easy to be consumed by the hospitality industry when your entire life is work.  The industry often leaves us without balance or a focus on overall wellness and  mental well being. Our generation is in crisis and there is a silent epidemic of  mental malnutrition in the workplace. Based on our 2019 survey of 400  respondents in Ontario, 87% of hospitality workers said yes to living with mental  health and addiction challenges.    

If you suffer from a heart attack or break a bone the obvious course of action is  to go to the doctor but people seem to neglect healing and recovery when it  comes to their mental health. Although most don’t live with a mental illness, all  of us are affected by our mental wellness. We all have to care for our own  mental health in the same way as our physical health. This becomes difficult for  most people in the hospitality industry who work outside of the 9-5 hours. Many  often have high-pressure jobs in small to medium-sized businesses where the  fundamentals needed for a supportive work environment are neglected or  unavailable.    


The good news is that there are steps we can all take for creating positive  mental health habits in and outside of work. Here are 5 tips that can help you  and your staff and the best part is that they’re free!   

  1. Exercise. We all need it and running up and down stairs isn’t enough.  Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a walk or riding your bike to work. To  help encourage your team, reach out to a local gym and request a  corporate discount for your staff. 

  2. Take a Break! You don’t have to smoke to go outside for fresh air.  Sometimes, getting outside for 10-15 minutes is enough to hit the reset  button and get out of the constant push of service. As a manager, hold  yourself accountable to the Ministry of Labor laws and ensure that your  staff are taking their breaks regularly.  

  3. Nourish your Body. We’ve all been there: an entire day goes by and you  haven’t eaten or consumed enough water at all. We need to place  value in making sure that we eat, and the people around us eat as well.  We spend our days taking care of guests and need to take care of our  work family first.   

  4. Avoid Drugs & Alcohol at Work. It’s not a secret that substance abuse is  prevalent in our industry. Management has an influence to lead by  example and the opportunity to offer staff alternative rewards besides a  post-work drink.  

  5. Resources. Posting mental health and addiction resources publicly for staff  and encouraging a dialogue sets a tone for a positive work culture.   

Sometimes the most powerful habits aren’t ones that cost a lot of money. The  goal is about shifting the focus and effort to taking care of yourself and the  people around you. These habits can help create not only higher retention in  staff but also a more productive, efficient and (most importantly), a happier and  healthier team.  

Not 9 to 5 is a Canadian organization focused on mental health and addiction in the  hospitality, food and beverage industry. We encourage change for a healthier mental  wellbeing for both employers and employees by normalizing the struggle, decreasing  stigma & connecting to resources. Stay tuned for our Better Practice Guide being  launched as a free downloadable PDF at Terroir 2019.