Are they really OK? 80% of hospitality workers think mental health issues are a current challenge in the industry

You don’t need to be an expert to reach out to a family, friend or workmate. A conversation can change a life.


This Thursday, 9 September marks R U OK? Day. With the ups and downs of life, particularly over the last year with COVID, the me&u team wanted to take the time to connect with our partners and ask are they really OK?

Chances are, one of your work family needs to talk 

Suicide prevention charity R U OK? recently released the results of a survey which found that 80% of hospitality workers agreed mental health issues are a challenge currently facing those in the industry, and 50% of hospitality workers in the last year said they had wanted someone at work to ask them if they were OK.

The silver lining from R U OK?’s findings was that the majority of hospitality workers felt they could access support from others in the industry such as their colleagues - not just their family and friends. In fact, 50% of workers reported that over the last 12 months they’ve had someone at work ask them “R U OK” when they really needed it.

“Business success and culture is built off the backs of your employees, they are your most valuable asset. Industry wide we have an obligation to foster a workplace culture that allows those working for, and with us, to thrive and shine.”
Potts Point Hotel, NSW

Support your workmates or someone in hospitality doing it tough

R U OK? Day is an important reminder to connect with those around you and start a conversation. You don’t have to be an expert to reach out, just an ally and a great listener. 

With states in and out of lockdown, and the pressures that come with changing restrictions, it's more important than ever to check in with those in hospitality - in the kitchen, on the floor, behind the bar, and anyone on shift.

“Unfortunately, with current NSW government lockdowns in place we won’t be able to celebrate in the venue, however we will be encouraging everyone to have a cold one and have a chat with a friend or family member.”
Potts Point Hotel NSW

When asked what’s one thing venue operators would like to say to their staff this R U OK? Day, many offered words of support with open arms. 

“Covid and lockdowns have affected us all in many different ways. This R U OK? Day, we ask you to take a moment to check in with yourself. It is OK to not be OK. If you may need support, please understand that you can reach out to us.”
Airey’s Pub, VIC

“Thanks for the hard work, support, and flexibility that you have shown the business during the last two years of COVID-19, Tough times don’t last but tough people do, and we will be bigger and better moving forward. We are looking forward to supporting you the same way that you have us.”
Potts Point Hotel NSW

“We are in unprecedented times with a lot of uncertainty, as managers/owners we can only do what we can do on the day to support our teams and each other.  We are all in this together.”
Discover Dolphin Centre, WA

The sentiment was strong across the venues we talked to - it’s okay to not be okay, we’re here to support you in any way we can, and we’re all in this together

To the great people of hospitality, stay strong

Now is the time to come together as an industry to share the love and support each other through difficult times. me&u partners around Australia have shared their words of encouragement for other venues doing it tough.

“Keep calm, one day at a time. Things will get better as long as we work together and help each other. Kindness goes a long way.”
Swan River Hotel, WA 

“We've learnt that being open to change and having innovative thinking is key.  With restrictions constantly changing, systems and processes that once worked can feel suddenly outdated.  Once we have the perimeters around what will keep our doors open moving forward, if we can adapt efficiently, everyone wins.”
Airey’s Pub VIC

“What we’ve experienced in Perth is that all people want to do after lockdowns are over is go out to eat and drink. So basically hang in there, things will start improving.”
The Camfield, WA

“Call your staff & check if they're really okay. Hard times for everyone right now.”
- Pacific Concept, AU

Guidance and tips to help you support someone in hospitality

It can feel quite daunting to have the right words when someone says they’re not OK, but a conversation can make a difference and change a life. If you’ve thought about asking someone if they’re OK but felt like it’s not quite your place to ask the question, R U OK? has published support resources.

The Mateship Handbook has been created specifically for the hospitality industry and includes a conversation starter guide as well as support tools for both employees and employers within the industry.