Working in the restaurant industry is a completely unique experience in its own. Restaurants offer the opportunity for individuals to have fulfilling careers outside of the regular 9 to 5 realm, while exposing them to the creative and eccentric community that is the service industry. But at the same time, you need mental and emotional resilience in order to thrive in that sort of environment. High stress, long work hours, and constant interaction with customers can be taxing on one’s mental and emotional state. These hardships fall on every layer of the company, from the hostess that greets customers at the door, to the servers who accommodate the guests, the chefs and kitchen staff who work tirelessly in an often closed-off and hot environment, to the managers and general managers who deal with the organization and functionality it takes to keep a restaurant in business. Each position carries its own weight, which can often result in negative effects to one’s mental state.
There is a social stigma about mental health that needs to be overcome. There is no weakness in admitting to being affected by the social, mental, and physical demands that comes with a job. Even the most supportive environments cannot overcome the issues its workers are dealing with if there is not an open line of communication between employee and employer. What many don’t know is that there are often opportunities for you to discuss problem areas outside of the manager’s office.
There is a division of counselors who are dedicated to working in career development and employee focused programs. These are most commonly known as ‘Employee Assistance Programs’ and visits are often covered by either an employer sponsored program or as a benefit in a health insurance plan.
The National Restaurant Association gives several reasons for why Employee Assistance Programs are needed in the restaurant industry:
* Assist in resolving problems before they become major issues in the workplace
* Provide consultations and trainings to organization leaders to enable them to properly address issues with employee job performance
* Ensure confidentiality in their assessments and provide short-term counselling to employees and their families
* Help employees identify and work through issues that are affecting their job performance
* Address methods of managing stress through positive behaviors like exercise and avoiding negative behaviors like alcohol and drug use
* Allow an employee to either be referred by the employer or to self-identify their need for assistance
* Work with the organization to improve the work environment based on employee and workplace assessments
Everyday life is hard enough without having to add the weight of anxiety, extreme stress, and depression. If you are having issues in your work environment look into the services that are available to you that will help you deal with the issue, and open a line of communication with your employer to take steps to improve your job satisfaction. Being healthy isn’t just about having a strong body, it is also about having a strong mind.
Dr. John E. Aoki, M.D. CHCQM, FABQAURP
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