1 in 4 of us will experience mental health issues this year. Mental Health is like physical health: if you do not look after your mental health, it can deteriorate and affect not only you but also those around you. This is clearly not an issue specific to the Drinks Industry, but we have to recognise that alcohol (or other substances) misuse can co-exist with mental health issues, so it is worth being aware of it and the support that exists…

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), employee issues with depression, workplace stress and other conditions are estimated to cost the British economy £70 billion per year (OECD Feb 2014). Mental health is now the biggest occupational health problem in the UK, accounting for more working days lost than musculoskeletal problems. The cost of mental ill-health to business is over £9 billion in salary with a further unknown cost in terms of lost time and productivity.

As we all know, working in the drinks industry means that you are never too far from a bottle of alcohol. The Benevolent, the drinks industry charity, states that alcohol misuse is a common way to deal with difficult feelings or symptoms of mental illness, referred to as ‘self-medication’, and this can make existing mental health problems worse.

They have launched the mental health campaign #NOTALONE

The Campaign aims to encourage members of the trade to speak freely about mental health issues within the workplace, creating a stigma-free environment, reminding both employers and employees that The Benevolent is here with professionals at hand to help you.

“I cannot imagine what it must be like to be living with depression, severe stress and anxiety and having nowhere to go or no one to talk to. Mental health issues are not restricted to class, race, gender, sexual or religious orientation – it can effect anyone at anytime in their lives and our Trade is no exception.” Chris Porter, Chief Executive of The Benevolent

I would expect that people working in the drinks industry have seen first hand the impact that mental health problems can have or at least may have heard stories of others within their network that have been affected in some way.

If not, the Tales of the Cocktail website has a feature from Laura Scholz in 2016 on this topic which is well worth a read. Remember that ‘forewarned is forearmed’ and it is always best to watch out for early signs and take action.

Here is the link to the article entitled ‘Alcoholism and Our Industry: Bar Vet Speaks Out’.

This includes Jack McGarry (pictured below) from The Dead Rabbit bar fame in New York and how he coped with the stresses of success by turning to the bottle before having a complete breakdown. It was only once he recognised the issue at hand that he was able to seek out help and turnaround his life and overall health. This is just one of the examples included in the article which also has links to organisations offering help and support in the USA.

This blog post is by no means a comprehensive guide on this important topic. I just wanted to highlight it as something which we must be aware of in order to help others around us and ultimately, ourselves…

For reference and worth checking out:

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