10 Ways Restaurant Staff Can Protect Their Mental Health Through the Pandemic
It’s time to talk more candidly about Covid coping
When Lauren Paylor, a mixologist at the Silver Lyan in Washington, D.C., was laid off at the end of March, she began feeling lost, aimless, and untethered.
“It was really difficult,” said Paylor, who had dealt with anxiety and depression before. “I didn’t know what to do with myself or how to keep myself occupied and I was getting depressed. I knew I needed to figure it out.”
Unemployment stands at crippling rates across the country, and virtual visits to mental health professionals are on the rise. More than half of adults in the U.S. report that the life changes required to weather the pandemic are negatively affecting their mental health, according to a July Kaiser Family Foundation poll. For online health appointment scheduler Zocdoc, patients seeking appointments for video visits with mental health professionals are choosing new providers at a 25 percent higher rate than other health care specialties, indicating many in the U.S. are seeking mental health services for the very first time.
“The restaurant industry has been hard hit from all sides,” said Dr. Anisha Patel-Dunn, a psychiatrist and Chief Medical Officer at LifeStance, a behavioral health company based in Bellevue, Washington. “They have the financial loss, but also for restaurant owners there is that sense of obligation to their employees and the feeling like they are letting their extended family down.”
To support the health and wellness of hospitality workers, Paylor and her friend Alex Jump, a bartender from Denver who has also struggled with anxiety and depression, founded Focus on Health, which creates free virtual content, including webinars, podcasts, toolkits, and resources that help promote physical, mental, and financial health. It incorporates mindful drinking with sponsored brands, hosts programs with therapists, and encourages yoga, meditation, and reiki.