Eight in 10 chefs suffer from poor mental health

A recent independent survey of UK chefs has found that eight in 10 of those working in professional kitchens (81%) have experienced poor mental health during their careers.

Furthermore, according to CHEF – a subsidiary of Nestle Professional – 48% of chefs believe that not enough is being done to support their mental wellbeing in the workplace.

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CHEF commissioned the extensive report to gain a better understanding of how chefs are affected and what can be done to improve the kitchen environment and lower stress levels.

The research shows that the top factors currently contributing to stress are staff shortages (58%), lack of time (43%) and limited budgets (42%). The lack of daylight was also cited, with 41% saying it negatively impacted on their wellbeing.

Not only is stress having an impact on the mental wellbeing of those in professional kitchens, the research has also revealed it may be having a negative impact on wider business operations, with 73% of chefs admitting to calling in sick due to stress.

CHEF has collaborated with Renée Clarke, workplace wellbeing expert from The Work Well Hub to assess the current situation and what can be done to alleviate the issue in a new report, ‘At Boiling Point: Addressing mental wellbeing in professional kitchens’.

The report also includes commentary from industry experts such as UKHospitality; mental health campaigns, Time to Change and Pilot Light; The Craft Guild of Chefs; Unite and fine dining restaurant, Cin Cin – a business which committing to prioritising employee wellbeing and creativity.

The research identified creativity as a key factor in reducing stress levels and increasing employee satisfaction with 87% agreeing that more freedom to be creative in the kitchen would significantly improve their stress levels. However, 85% stated that their creativity was being stifled by other pressures in the kitchen.

Andrej Prokes, consultant chef at Nestlé Professional, said: “Being a chef is, I think, one of the most intensely satisfying jobs there is, but it comes at a price. As you’d expect, working at pace in a busy kitchen comes with its challenges, especially when you are putting your heart and soul into creating the perfect dish. However, that price should not be the mental health of chefs and too often these days, it is.

“CHEF’s survey results clearly demonstrate that mental health is a significant issue affecting chefs across the UK and with the support of industry experts, professionals and campaigners, this report goes a long way to understanding the causes and what more can be done to raise awareness, improve communication across the industry and probably most significantly, reduce stress levels leading to mental health issues.”
Trade charity, Hospitality Action, whose work offers a crucial lifeline to those who work in the hospitality industry have welcomed the report.”

Chief executive, Mark Lewis, added: “The most recent survey results from Nestlé Professional add to the growing body of evidence that there is still much to do to with regards to mental wellbeing in the kitchen. We applaud anything that can be done to raise awareness of and destigmatise an issue that costs too many lives in our industry.”

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