October 3

Building Community and Supporting Team Wellness with CHOW

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CHOW Speaks on Mental Health In The Hospitality Industry and What Managers Can Do To Better Support Team Wellness

Over the last decade, there’s been a national focus on the hardships associated with the restaurant industry. While the work can be massively rewarding with plenty of growth opportunities, unaddressed consequences of a high-stress work environment can add up.

According to Culinary Hospitality Outreach Wellness (CHOW), 63% of hospitality professionals suffer from depression, 84% feel stress from their jobs, 65% use substances on the job, and 53% feel pushed to the breaking point. With these numbers, it’s clear something has to change. 

“We know that restaurant workers are marginalized. They often work without medical benefits or paid time off,” Jasmin Parks-Papadopoulos, Head of Community at CHOW, told us. “In addition to not caring for themselves physically, many restaurant workers cannot afford to address their mental health. This creates more challenges as their depression, addiction, and anxiety can manifest into a toxic work environment or vicious cycle for the individual.” 

The industry’s issues run deep and can’t be solved by a single owner, manager, or worker alone. With community and resources, everyone can take an active role in their own mental wellness and support others to do the same—contributing to a more sustainable industry.

CHOW is building that community. As a nationwide network, CHOW is connecting hospitality workers with invaluable resources to get the help they need while flipping the script on health and wellness within the industry. 

“CHOW is an organization of culinary and hospitality staff working to nourish their lives inside and outside the food/beverage/hospitality industry,” Parks-Papadopoulos told us. “We believe that our community should care for each other and themselves with as much passion as we do guests and ingredients.” 

The group began in 2018 after John Hinman of Hinman Pies in Denver, Colorado, was interviewed by food writer Alexandra Palmerton for an article on mental health stresses in the hospitality industry. 

The article resonated with industry folk and received an astounding number of responses from those who felt heard and wanted to share their stories and experiences. Hinman immediately saw a need to build a safe space where this type of cathartic release through storytelling and sharing could occur.   

“CHOW supports mental health and substance use by creating opportunities to connect on a deeper level,” Parks-Papadopoulos said. “By sharing our grief, it becomes lighter. By sharing our success and joy, it gives all of us hope.”

With the support of volunteers across the US, CHOW facilitates in-person and virtual meetings. Each meeting has a theme and a speaker who is in recovery from mental health or substance abuse issues to guide discussion while assisting others in their recovery

In addition to their peer support groups, Parks-Papadopoulos said they also have partnerships with clinical therapists and life coaches to offer other wellness services and a range of activities. One is their Amuse Mental Health course, a six-hour training course free to industry workers.  

“This course offers tangible, evidence-based skills that everyone can use for themselves or to support a coworker or friend,” Parks-Papadopoulos shared. 

A few of those skills include: 

  • Identify causes and conditions that support substance misuse and compromised mental health in the hospitality industry
  • Identify vocationally specific support groups for hospitality workers, even in rural communities
  • Recognize multiple pathways to recovery from substance use and co-occurring disorders

“With this training, we employ folks to look out for how mental health, substance misuse, and general struggles are present in the food/beverage/hospitality industry and employ them with resources to support folks and themselves,” Parks-Papadopoulos said. 

Beyond their meetings and courses—their website is chock-full of resources for everyone and anyone within the hospitality industry. From workbooks and posters to wellness apps and financial assistance programs, CHOW is an excellent organization to get familiar with for your journey and in supporting team wellness. 

You can also get involved. CHOW is always looking for volunteers and others to start a meeting in their area and help CHOW expand its mission in new cities. 

If you are looking for ways to improve your mental and physical health or learn how to better support your team wellness as an employer or manager, check out CHOW today. As is the mission of CHOW, we all need to be there for each other and give as much care and attention to ourselves and our community as we give to guests daily. 

To learn more about the CHOW meetings, visit their website. You can also see a quick breakdown of the current in-person and virtual meetings below!

List of CHOW meetings

 

About the author

Ashley

Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.


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