Behind the Smiles: Unmasking the Mental Health Struggles of Hospitality Workers


The UKs hospitality industry plays a key role in the economy encompassing businesses such as hotels, restaurants, bars and tourism services. In doing so it provides employment for a large number of individuals.

However the mental health and overall well being of workers in this sector have become increasingly important with the challenges posed by the COVID 19 pandemic that have compounded existing issues.

To emphasise the gravity of this matter a survey has revealed that all respondents from the hospitality industry expressed dissatisfaction with the level of health support provided by their employers.

Additionally 23% felt uncomfortable expressing concerns about their well being within their workplaces. Such lack of support and its subsequent impact on employees well being can lead to turnover rates. Create an unfavourable work environment.

Challenges Confronting Hospitality Employees

Hospitality professionals in the UK encounter challenges throughout their careers. These include extended and irregular working hours, high pressure situations, interactions with challenging customers and job insecurity. The physical demands and mental stress resulting from these difficulties can significantly affect workers overall well being.

The nature of the industry often demands that employees work extended, socially inconvenient hours. This can disrupt their lives. It also creates challenges in maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life. Moreover the high pressure environment, unrealistic deadlines and irregular shifts can take a toll on employees emotional and physical well being.

Impact on Mental Well being

The difficulties faced by individuals working in the hospitality sector can have an impact on their health. It is common to encounter stress, anxiety, depression and burnout within this industry. A study conducted during the COVID 19 pandemic highlighted that job insecurity, anxiety and depression significantly affected hotel employees self rated task performance. This emphasises how these factors can negatively influence workers’ well being as their job performance.

According to one study, it was found that 69% of the respondents stated that nothing would make them change their minds about returning to the hospitality industry. This indicates the severity of the challenges faced by workers in this field and how it affects their well being.

Obstacles Exasperating Poor Mental Health

There are obstacles that hospitality workers may encounter when seeking help for their mental health issues. These barriers can be attributed to stigma, access to healthcare and fear of consequences at work.

Stigma Surrounding Health Is a Challenge in the Hospitality Industry

Stigma often arises from a lack of understanding or fear leading individuals with mental illnesses to feel ashamed, hopeless and isolated.  In the workplace stigma can result in reduced employment opportunities or social interaction. It may also lead to bullying, physical violence or harassment. A study conducted in 2017 discovered that higher levels of stigma were associated with recovery from illness after one or two years. Addressing stigma is crucial, the industry as a whole needs to foster a community that promotes recovery and rejects discrimination.

Insufficient Access to Healthcare

Globally, more than 70% of individuals suffering from illness do not receive any treatment from healthcare professionals contributing to a significant treatment gap. Unemployment rates can soar as high as 70% to 90% for individuals dealing with severe mental illnesses making it even more challenging for them to access healthcare services. Research has shown that investing in mental health yields net cost benefits underscoring the crucial need for accessible healthcare services for those affected by mental illness.

Fear of Job Consequences

Some workers in the hospitality industry may hesitate to seek assistance for their mental health struggles due to concerns about the stigma surrounding mental illness. They fear being treated or judged and worry about negative repercussions like losing their jobs. The cost of taking disability leave due to an illness is approximately twice as high as that of leave taken for health issues. This emphasises how significantly mental health can impact job security.

Initiatives and Organisations

There are a number of initiatives around.

For example The Center for Workplace Mental Health established by the APA Foundation lays emphasis on both healthcare services and targeted efforts aimed at breaking down the silence surrounding discussions about illness. 

Employers have the flexibility to customise programs and strategies based on their company culture and existing strengths with the goal of addressing stigma and discrimination against illness.

The United Nations General Assembly has established ‘Principles, for the protection of persons with illness and the improvement of health care’ while the World Health Organization actively advocates for improved access to healthcare services and provides valuable information regarding mental health and human rights.

McLean Hospitals Deconstructing Stigma campaign along with other similar initiatives seeks to challenge stigma, raise awareness and offer support to individuals dealing with mental illness.

Solutions for Hospitality Employee Mental Health

Various initiatives, solutions and mental health training have been implemented to support the well being of hospitality workers in terms of their health.

Mental Health Awareness Campaigns

Within the industry campaigns aimed at raising awareness about health can effectively combat stigma while promoting an understanding of related issues. These campaigns strive to educate employees and employers on the significance of maintaining good mental well being by providing them with relevant resources for support.

Training and Resources for Managers

Managers have a role in fostering a positive workplace environment. By equipping them with training and resources that increase their understanding of health issues, companies can create a more positive and inclusive atmosphere.

In the hospitality industry it is important to address health concerns, among employees. This can involve initiatives such as training to recognise signs of health issues promoting a healthy work life balance and fostering supportive relationships.

To provide additional resources and support for workers, collaborations between hospitality establishments and mental health organisations can be beneficial. These partnerships can offer access to counselling services, health hotlines and educational materials to help employees navigate their health challenges.

Employee Assistance Programs

Many employers in the hospitality industry have implemented Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These programs aim to offer support and resources for workers dealing with health issues ensuring they can seek help without fearing any negative job consequences.

Proactive Education

Taking a proactive approach in educating and raising awareness about mental health conditions is crucial. At Gallantium we specialise in providing support packages that focus on workplace mental health topics each month. We tak comprehensive approach includes presentations, dramatised case studies, podcasts, written support guides, top support tips videos and exclusive articles designed to assist leaders and workers in understanding these topics effectively.

The resources we deliver facilitate the sharing of knowledge and encourage changes in behaviour. Our team, composed of experts in health, contributes to the development of our content. We ensure that our content is engaging and accessible for all employees catering to learning styles. We strongly believe in offering solutions that assist employers in managing mental well being concerns before they become overwhelming.

Our approach involves delivering content on a basis allowing employers to consistently demonstrate care and support for health management. This approach ensures that mental health remains a priority providing managers and employees with the support and knowledge to maintain a safe and healthy work environment permanently.


With increased stress within the hospitality sector, we have seen a rise in mental health issues and generally poor mental health. It is essential for the success of the hospitality industry and the overall well being of its employees to address their mental health and wellbeing. By acknowledging the challenges faced by these workers, removing barriers to seeking help and implementing initiatives, solutions and mental health awareness training that support hospitality employee mental health, will ultimately lead to us fostering a more positive and inclusive work environment, for everyone involved.






















Other related articles

Nadun Baduge
General Enquiries