4 Tips on How to Open the Lines of Communication

It’s time for us, both as hospitality professionals and members of society, to speak openly about mental health. Unfortunately it still carries a stigma and it’s estimated that 40% of men have never discussed their mental health (source: Priory).

To mark International Men’s Day on November 19, we asked our chefs and experts for advice on how they get their staff to talk more about their feelings, and suggestions on how to promote mental health in the kitchen for people of all genders. 

1. Be honest about your struggles

“It started as fun, drinking and smoking pot on weekends. It became something very different in my early twenties. I was the executive chef leading a $30 million food and beverage operation. I took advantage of that. I got drunk on New Year’s Eve, got into trouble and I lost my job. The reason I share my story about addiction is because I want that kid who’s 21 and has a drinking problem like I did to know that there’s a better way of life and you don’t have to feel that way anymore.”

Jamie Knott
Executive Chef and Owner, Saddle River Inn and Cellar 335


2. Remember why it’s important

“Communication for a team is paramount. I think it's actually the only thing that's important for a team to be successful. It creates agility, it creates the ability to understand messages, it creates the ability to achieve.” 

Candice Adams
Academic Operations Manager, Capsicum Culinary Studio



3. Tune into your team

“Anton Mosimann was one of the first chefs to bring handshaking into the kitchen so every morning he shook everyone's hands and I've done that all my career up until the pandemic. Just from a handshake I can tell how someone is feeling, how they are getting on at home, are they having financial issues, are they having issues with their partner, are they having issues with their pets, their parents. It could be anything. Their car could be broken down and this can affect people. It's just important they know you care.”

Chris Galvin
Chef Patron, Galvin Restaurants

4. Check in

“If someone's feeling fragile or sensitive I'll go up to them when I see an opportunity where we can huddle to a private area of the kitchen and do a personalised check in. Say, ‘Is everything ok? You seem a little quiet today, I just want to make sure that you're feeling good. Do you need anything? Are you overwhelmed?’ Just try to dig and ask questions not too invasively but allow them the opportunity to speak up if they'd like to.” 

Steven Satterfield
Executive chef, Miller Union


Even though our workplaces are high-pressure environments, there are many ways we can create space to address mental health issues and build a culture of asking for help when it’s needed. Like a simple handshake, sometimes all it takes is to acknowledge the person in front of you. 

If you would like to create a kitchen culture that is healthy for everyone involved, we offer free online leadership training. Sign up today and start learning how you can make a difference.  

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