Keeping stress out of the kitchen – Hospitality industry launches mental health campaign

Scotland’s hospitality industry, recognised as having particularly serious problems with workplace stress, is combatting the issue with the country’s first award to promote the positive mental health of staff in hotels, guest houses, pubs, restaurants and catering businesses.

The Catering Scotland (CIS) Excellence Awards – the leading annual competition for the hospitality, catering and tourism sectors – has launched the CIS Well-Being in Hospitality Award, a category aimed at honouring operators who recognise and address employees’ mental health problems.

“The hospitality industry can be a great place to work but can also be a highly pressured environment,” said Billy Watson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

He added: “Recent research indicates that four in five hospitality workers found their job stressful some or most of the time, yet more than half wouldn’t make their employers aware of mental health problems. We hope this award will encourage employers to address factors that can contribute to mental health problems.”

Gordon McIntyre, Associate Dean for Hospitality and Tourism at City of Glasgow College and a member of the CIS Excellence Awards Advisory Board, said problems were often made worse by having ready access to alcohol and that gambling issues can also have an adverse effect on employees’ mental health. Unlike physical injury, signs of mental health deterioration may not be obvious, and young men are particularly at risk because they are often unwilling to open up.

“Unsociable hours, split shifts and constant working under pressure are some of the reasons why mental health well-being is a major issue in the industry,” he continued. “Helped by the interest that members of the royal family have been taking in the subject, society in general is becoming more aware of the problems but much more needs to be done.”

McIntyre, winner of the CIS Excellence Hospitality Educator of the Year Award in 2016 and the Hospitality Trust Industry (HIT) Scotland Award in 2018, established the Scottish charity Hospitality Health to support hospitality employees and students and offer training for employers and staff.

The new Award is sponsored by Inspire Catering which has more than 300 staff and won the Healthier Scotland Award in 2010 and 2017.

Managing Director David Pease said the winner would be a business which could demonstrate a real commitment to the health and well-being not only of staff but also of clients and customers.

“For every person who has the courage to come forward and admit they have a problem, there are many who don’t,” he commented. “All businesses should be looking out for negative indicators, and hospitality staff can also play a part by watching out for customers who may also have issues.”

The CIS Excellence Awards are widely accepted as the ultimate accolade for Scotland’s chefs, hotels, restaurants, gastro pubs and educational institutions. Entries are free of charge and close on 27 February. For more information, visit or call 0131 557 5767.

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