lamel clarke hospitality mental health

La'Mel Clarke: How's your mental state?

03 March, 2020

If you work in the hospitality industry, chances are you work with someone who is struggling with their mental health.

The gamut can run from having an ‘off day’ to full-blown depression. It’s mind-blowing, because all bartenders do is make drinks, party and have a laugh, right? 

Of course, this isn’t
 the case. Hospitality 
staff are familiar with
 the struggle of balancing personal relationships 
with notoriously antisocial working hours. Add to that the pressures of working in an industry that is currently in a beautiful season of bloom, along with the ever present need to innovate and excel – there quite simply isn’t enough time to feel lonely or anxious; there are Piña Coladas to clarify, and mint garnishes to pick. 

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. There are some exciting opportunities and lifelines for members of the drinks industry, whether they need immediate counsel regarding mental health, or are looking at taking preventative measures for health and mental wellbeing. 

Drinks industry charity The Benevolent is a non- profit organisation designed to provide support for members of the trade and their families. Whether
for emergency grants and funding, support with stress at work, substance dependency or free counselling sessions. 

There is also Healthy Hospo, founded by Tim Etherington-Judge, which is all about providing training, events and activities
to educate and inspire people to better health and wellness and change the attitudes prevalent within the industry. I attended a Healthy Hospo event in 2018 and we did yoga, drank kombucha and learned that the best way to eat on a night of drinking is to graze, rather than eat one heavy meal. In 2020 it’s also launching its first digital learning platform focused on health and wellbeing in the hospitality industry. 

Finally, there is the work
of Reyka vodka, which 
has made a real splash. 
Led by Fabiano Latham, groups of bartenders have been ‘adventuring within nature’ and participating 
in wilderness excursions, taking part in bouldering, abseiling, canoeing, paddle boarding and foraging for cocktail ingredients on remote islands. Or, for the less adventurous, there’s the casual weekly running club, Reyka Runners. 

While the top line of
the Reyka experience isn’t married to mental wellbeing, there’s still a connection. Experiences like this are great because they get people out of their everyday routine and into the outdoors,
where a microbiome called mycobacterium vaccae, found in mud, has been credited with treating depression. 

In the current social climate, mental and physical wellbeing is taking centre stage for the vast majority
 of the industry and the wider public. As a result,
 it is heartening to see programmes which have been developed to benefit the industry, but it is also important to be mindful of whether it is actually good for the wellbeing of the industry, or if it is just slick PR for alcohol brands – anyone for beer yoga? 

Keywords: la'mel clarke

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.