When the light goes out!…..

Coping with mental health issues within hospitality management.

The hospitality industry is all about people and the measure of success is based on how businesses treat their customers who want to feel special, recognised and cared for. This is ultimately achieved by treating them in a warm, friendly, welcoming and generous way. How many times could you say you treat yourself this way?

  • How often do you take time to care for yourself, recognise how you are feeling and treat yourself as someone special?
  • As a manager you constantly do it for everyone else so what’s stopping you from doing it for yourself?

The reason this is so important is because if you don’t take care of yourself you will ultimately be in no fit state to give that care to others.

Mental health has always been an issue in the hospitality industry, this time last year it was reported that over 80% of hospitality workers felt that stress levels were increasing and were believed to be linked to the job. This resulted in many saying that they would not recommend the industry to others. The industry regrettably is not known for its great work life balance and whilst there are those that are doing much to change this, many are still not making the wellbeing of their staff a priority. As there is so much uncertainty around the current situation this makes the industry unappealing as a career choice, in fact many are choosing to leave due to the lack of stability.

This highlights the need for investment in the wellbeing of staff where they have access to good mental health support, by this we mean helping them to adopt healthy behaviours not just physically but emotionally, socially, spiritually and intellectually. This is particularly important at this current time as many managers are dealing with so much change and ongoing uncertainty. There are many different experiences depending on which type of business managers are in and no two appear to be the same, so I think it’s important to realise that your experience is not necessarily what others are feeling. Still for the majority they are faced with countless demands, and they may not necessarily have the resources to meet them which creates an environment where they are constantly overworked and under pressure.


As a manager there can be this need to take on everyone else’s problems, feel responsible and always be available for others. These are expectations that are in many ways unrealistic and unachievable and when cannot be met make you feel frustrated, disappointed and as if you are not doing your job well. The truth is you cannot sustain that kind of approach.

This is resulting in unprecedented levels of burnout, that feeling when the light goes out and you have nothing more to give. Like being on stage we put on a show, when at work you are so busy focussing on the challenges you don’t have time to think about anything else. It’s when the curtain falls or in this case the doors close that it can be a very different show that’s going on. Burnout is more than feeling stressed, it’s being exhausted, mentally drained, feeling like you can’t give anymore, like an empty vessel. It affects every part of your life and tends to creep up on you and before you know it, bam!

Now if a business has strategies in place to recognise the signs of potential burnout and deal with them early on then they may be able to prevent it.  This involves getting support to help build resilience, you are not invincible and it is a good sign if you can recognise that you need support, there is no shame in it.

Ways to manage your mental health

  • You have a responsibility to yourself to manage your own mental health and if that means asking for help then that is what you need to do.
  •  It’s crucial to find balance in your life and focus on what is important to you and see how you can stay connected to people who you trust, either in or outside of the industry.
  • Avoid self- medication of drugs and alcohol because that doesn’t make the problems go away, it just numbs the pain and is a temporary fix that can cause problems further down the line.
  • It’s important to get into a good routine, exercise, eat well and get enough sleep, when at work make sure you take regular breaks, this actually makes you more productive not less.
  • Focus on what you can control even if those are only small things, it will help you be able to take back some sense of power over your life and keep anxiety levels at bay.
  • Learn to delegate to share the load and let others help you, it might take time to get used to doing this but will make a difference in the long term and will result in your staff developing their own skills.
  • Be mindful of others and show empathy but remember if you do not look after yourself you will be of no help to anyone. As a manager if you cannot deal with a staff issue sometimes it is best to signpost them to help from other sources and then keep checking on their progress. You don’t necessarily have all the answers.
  • Burnout doesn’t have to be permanent and it certainly is something that can be prevented, but if experienced and treated correctly it can have you coming back even stronger, hopefully with lessons learnt to stop it happening again.


Author: Shirley Walker – The Seasoned Coach

If you feel you might need some help to get back on track contact me at:

Email: shirley.walker@theseasonedcoach.co.uk
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shirley-walker  
Website: www.theseasonedcoach.co.uk