Looking after your mental health

By Camilla Woods, employee assistance programme manager, Hospitality Action

Hospitality Action is the trade charity offering a crucial lifeline to people of all ages, working and retired, from the hospitality industry. Whether we’re approached by a chef, housekeeper, school cook or bar staff, Hospitality Action will endeavour to support, whatever the difficulty.

We understand that sometimes all it takes is a very small change in circumstances to tip the balance and turn a manageable situation into an unmanageable one. An extended illness such as cancer can lead to a drop in pay, other circumstances such as a relationship breakdown, bereavement or redundancy can also put a strain on the household budget, this is where we can step in and offer financial assistance. In addition to our long running grants programme we also offer help with practical debt and money advice, counselling, information and signposting and basic legal advice.

Hospitality Action saw a 9.46% increase in applications for assistance in 2015 compared to 2014 which was a record number. We spent £632,500 on financial assistance which is a 6% increase on 2014’s spend of £595,000. 33% of people who applied to the charity for help did so because of a life changing illness and 32% applied for help because they were living in poverty.

In 2013 Hospitality Action launched its Employee Assistance Programme (“EAP”) which is a fantastic way employers can support their staff. The scheme provides a niche specialist, independent, confidential advice, support and assistance service 24 hours a day; 365 days per year comprising of assistance advice, on line on the telephone or face-to-face.

In our experience the types of issues most commonly faced are:

1. Health and wellbeing worries
2. Work-related problems
3. Financial challenges
4. Personal issues
5. Addiction support

Of the 90,000 employees we currently support through our Employee Assistance Programme, the highest viewed online factsheets is Bullying & Harassment at Work, followed by Low Mood & Depression and Alcohol. Last year we saw a 33% increase in face to face counselling and contact to our Managerial Helpline to help managers with their teams, deal with personal issues (including health issues and support), has doubled in the past year. Looking after your mental health Hospitality Action is the trade charity offering a crucial lifeline to people of all ages, working and retired, from the hospitality industry. Whether we’re approached by a chef, housekeeper, school cook or bar staff, Hospitality Action will endeavour to support, whatever the difficulty.

 Five ways to combat stress:

1 Get support. Social support is by far and away the most effective weapon against stress. People can isolate when they’re stressed in an attempt to preserve energy. Don’t do it, it’s vital not to lose touch with friends.

2 Take care of your body. Get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced diet and schedule time for exercise. Physical activity improves the flow of blood to the brain, helping you think more clearly.

3 Manage your time. Set realistic goals for what you have to do and when. The tasks ahead will become a lot less frightening if you’ve planned ahead. Writing a “to-do” list for the next day just before you go to bed, you’ll sleep a lot better!

4 Manage your money. Keeping track of your expenditure, sticking to a realistic budget, or drawing up a workable debt repayment plan if necessary will take a lot of the worry out of your finances.

5 Make time for yourself. Take up a hobby, listen to some music, or just read a book. Any of these activities will give you space to restore your sense of self and recover from the pressures around you.

For more information about Hospitality Action please visit www.hospitalityaction.org.uk or email Camilla at cwoods@hospitalityaction.org.uk

Click here to read the rest of the May 2016 issue of Stir it up