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Help is at hand for hospitality mental health

By Features Reporter

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Mikeysline CEO Emily Stokes and Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards vice chair Lorna MacLennan. Picture: Callum Mackay
Mikeysline CEO Emily Stokes and Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards vice chair Lorna MacLennan. Picture: Callum Mackay

When the Highlands & Islands Thistle Awards chose Mikeysline as its charity partner last year it was a conscious move to not only raise awareness about the mental health challenges faced by many in the sector as it recovered from Covid but to let people know they were not alone.

The awards night raised £3000 for Mikeysline which has been supporting adults, young people and children across the Highlands and Moray struggling with their mental health through a range of innovative resources, including support via SMS, WhatsApp, webchat, Messenger and Twitter, and face-to-face through its crisis centres ‒ hives ‒ in Inverness, Tain, Alness and Nairn.

During the pandemic, Mikeysline gave much-needed support to businesses and individuals in the hospitality sector, one of the industries hardest hit by Covid.

The charity provided training about mental health awareness and suicide prevention, and raised awareness of the support that Mikeysline could offer as well as breaking down some of the barriers to speaking on the textline.

Mikeysline CEO Emily Stokes said: “We were absolutely delighted to be the charity partner at the awards ceremony. As a non-funded charity it’s absolutely essential to continue our work and build on the work we can do for both adults and young people. We were very grateful for the huge amount that was raised that night. And it was lovely to be there seeing everybody in the hospitality sector having a bit of time out for themselves. It hasn’t been possible for the last few years and to have people awarded and acknowledge their efforts was fantastic to see.

“The sector has been really affected by Covid and lockdowns in terms of job security and wellbeing because of having to close, recovery on the back of Brexit, and also the cost of living crisis that we’re currently in. It’s a sector that’s been really heavily impacted by everything that’s been happening.

“They already work long hours and unsociable shifts due to the nature of their roles. That can be more stressful and pressured. It’s really important HITA chose to link with ourselves to raise the profile of mental health and suicide prevention to people who work in the sector and I hope it helped to raise awareness of the support we can provide.”

HITA vice chair, Lorna MacLennan, said: “Partnering with Mikeysline in our first awards since Covid was a clear choice for us. The tourism and hospitality sectors were among the hardest hit during the pandemic so it was important that we let our amazing colleagues know they are not alone; there is help and support for those struggling with their mental health.

“We are delighted the funds we raised on awards night have helped Mikeysline continue its vital support in the Highlands and Moray.”

Recent statistics support the scale of the pressures and stresses that many in the hospitality sector feel

The 2022 Social Impact Report from The Burnt Chef Project, a social enterprise established to eradicate mental health stigma in hospitality, found that 8 out of 10 (84 per cent) of respondents had experienced mental health issues within their career and 46 per cent would not feel comfortable talking about their health concerns with their colleagues.

A VisitScotland spokesperson added: “Tourism businesses face ongoing challenges and continued uncertainty and positive mental health is hugely important within this – and any other – sector.

“Employers have a duty of care to their employees, which includes welfare as well as physical health and safety, so we would encourage them to check in with their staff and make sure that they are coping with the ongoing challenges.”

VisitScotland provides advice for employers through its website www.visitscotland.org

Mikeysline continues to offer its support to the business community, across all sectors

“We go into businesses and talk about mental health to both employers and employees so we can have that conversation together; how we can all support each other and look out for signs, where support is available and how employers can signpost employees if necessary.”

The charity also works closely with schools and guidance teachers across Highland and Moray with workshops, one-to-one support for pupils and training for staff. The funds raised from the tourism awards have helped Mikeysline continue its early intervention work.

In the past year the charity has been working with 32 secondary schools, reaching 8900 pupils as well as teachers and families, and 22 primaries, reaching 3000 pupils.

“Our belief is very much that we need to start talking about emotions at a very early age”, added Emily.

“It’s really important from a very young age that people start articulating how they’re feeling. There is a culture in Highland, especially among males, that we’re not as open about how we’re feeling, that we should be able to cope ourselves and don’t want to be a burden.

“But if we can get people to articulate at a very young age and see it as normal to talk about how they’re feeling, especially if they are struggling with their mental health, that can only help for the future.”

Find out more: www.mikeysline.co.uk and www.hita-awards.com

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