Colorado’s hospitality industry is a vital sector that contributes significantly to the state’s economy. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increased focus on the mental health of workers in this industry. However, industry advocates believe that there is still more work to be done. According to Culinary Hospitality Outreach Wellness (CHOW), a staggering 63% of hospitality workers suffer from depression, 84% feel job-related stress, and 65% report using substances while at work. CHOW’s mission is to support the wellness of hospitality workers and improve their quality of life. The organization’s Executive Director, Erin Boyle, aims to create a space where restaurant staff can feel heard and appreciated.
Boyle highlights a significant issue within the industry, stating that workers often lack training on how to cope outside of the workplace. Unlike office workers who might receive education on mental health or have access to a human resources department, many individuals in the food and beverage and hospitality sectors do not have these opportunities. Last year, CHOW provided 240 hours of free mental health training and reached more than 12,000 people. Additionally, the organization connects industry workers with various free resources, including financial planning, nutrition advice, and support for addiction. Boyle emphasizes that many workers in the industry face challenges, such as no access to benefits or neglecting their own health needs due to tight profit margins.
Server Mike Tubolino, who has spent years in the restaurant industry, supports CHOW’s efforts. He acknowledges that despite being among people all the time, the industry can be isolating. Tubolino emphasizes the importance of CHOW’s provision of resources for workers and the impact it has on the customers they serve. He hopes that people recognize the significance of restaurants in communities and treat workers with kindness and consideration.
To access CHOW’s wellness toolkit and learn more about mental health and substance use disorders, please visit their website at https://chowco.org/.