High profile chefs need to open up and do more to share their mental health challenges to help others, according to chef and restauranteur Tom Kerridge. Speaking at an Arena Networking event held at the Corinthia London, Kerridge urged top chefs to keep talking about issues that have impacted their mental health as they’ve progressed through their careers.
Chefs have long been known to work unsociable hours, many without resources to tackle their immediate mental health needs. According to research carried out by Hospitality Action last year, 80% of respondents in the hospitality sector declared that their job is stressful sometimes or most of the time.
In the same survey, 56% of respondents thought that employees are more likely to discuss their mental health with employers than previously. Of the 44% who answered ‘no’, they cited stigma, taboo and embarrassment as terms that prevent further dialogue and discussion.
Hospitality Action ambassador Kerridge also pledged his support to helping chefs going through challenging times, offering mentoring and support through avenues such as industry charities and organisations. He said: “It’s really important that chefs know that there are others who may have been through what they are going through right now. There are times I remember in my life where I was really struggling. Whether it’s through alcoholism or other mental health issues, it’s really important to recognise when you have an issue.
“I know drugs and gambling are big problems in some areas of the sector at the moment and it’s important to raise the issue wherever possible. I have a media profile which means I am able to talk about some of the challenges I’ve faced over the years. I want people to know that it’s okay if you’re struggling. It’s also okay to talk about it.
“There are places people can go if they are in a place where they feel like they need to talk to somebody. We all need to talk more about the issues we have faced and almost normalise it.”
Kerridge was speaking at an event organised by Arena Networking, attended by 150 people from across the hospitality sector.