Supporting mental health in the night-time industry

We’ve said it before and we’ll no doubt say it again – these are unprecedented, challenging times. Many businesses throughout the leisure and hospitality industry are temporarily closed and thousands (if not millions) of employees are currently furloughed. It’s more important now than ever before to focus on self-care and mental health.

The importance of good mental health

Mental health allows us to function effectively and enjoy aspects of day-to-day life. It gives us the strength and resilience we need to manage a rainbow of emotions and form health relationships with those around us.

Individuals experience low mental health for a variety of reasons. However, these are so often impacted by life experiences. A stressful period of not working, or fractured relationships can really make a difference to someone’s mental wellbeing. If this isn’t identified and looked after quickly and effectively, low mental health can eventually develop into a more serious mental illness such as depression.

Being kind

The Mental Health Foundation is launching Mental Health Awareness Week on 18th – 24th May. The theme this year is kindness. But how does this impact mental health?

Protecting our mental health, and supporting the mental health of others, is vital. The power of kindness can be exceptional, and we need kindness and compassion more than ever. We need this to develop relationships with our community and rebuild our businesses.

Businesses within the night-time industry are already showing strength, passion and of course kindness. We’ve seen restaurants become takeaways, delivering food to vulnerable members of the community. We’ve seen the businesses and associations pull together and fight to save our industry. And we’ve seen individual good news stories from across the night-time industry that demonstrates the powerful community spirit that runs throughout our sector.

So how can you further support the mental health of your staff, customers and community whilst your business is temporarily closed?

Listen to your community

Find out what your community needs. If there’s a lack of virtual entertainment (think bingo, karaoke and the good old pub quiz) then why not organise one via your venue’s Facebook page?

There may also be a lack of local takeaways or food collection services, or businesses offering affordable drink deliveries. Keep an eye on your local community groups and see if there’s a gap in the market for your business to step in and support.

You could also consider donating your time and expertise. Local people may need extra help or support during this time, and even a phone call could make the world of difference. As a community hub, it’s likely you’ll know your venue’s regulars quite well. Check in with them and ask how they’re doing. It will not only make a difference to their day, it will improve your own mental health too.

Keep your staff connected

The night-time industry employs millions of workers. Many of these are flexible, temporary or part-time workers or part of the gig economy. This means there may be a disconnect with their other colleagues and managers.

Feeling isolated and uncertain about the future obviously has a detrimental impact on an individual’s mental health. Provide messages of reassurance and keep in touch with your team. Transparency is key here. Business updates give employees transparency and honesty so they know what the future is likely to hold.

It doesn’t have to be all work and no play, though. Even if your venue is closed temporarily, you can still keep in touch with your staff. Organise social chats, online events and even group messages to ensure everyone stays connected.

Supporting one another and communicating is key to improving and maintaining good mental health. We’ve mentioned this before, but developing an open and welcoming working environment is key to giving your staff the support they need.

Appreciate the little things

We get it. During lockdown, there’s not a lot any of us can do! Putting wellbeing programmes in place and reviewing your business operations should be bubbling away in the background, ready to support your team once your venue is up and running again. But for many businesses in the leisure and hospitality industry, getting those doors open again and profits back up is the number one priority.

So, for now, focus on appreciating the little things and enjoying random acts of kindness. Tell a colleague you’re grateful for their support, make a care package for a vulnerable member of your community or send a handwritten note to someone you haven’t spoken to for a while. You don’t have to make grand gestures to make a difference.

Similarly, take the time to sit back and appreciate small acts of kindness that have come your way. Perhaps a regular customer is placing orders with you in advance, or a member of staff has sent a message checking in to see how you are. Don’t underestimate the power of these small acts of kindness on maintaining your mental health.

Focus on the future

It’s important for all businesses, and particularly those in the night-time industry, to remain positive and keep focussed on the good times ahead.

Put plans in place now for your big comeback. Don’t forget your loyal customers who supported you prior to the coronavirus pandemic. They’ll be there waiting for your return.

Support your customers and community during the lockdown by gently promoting your business. You can do this by running competitions on social media, offering a free drink to community heroes or even sharing news or promotions from other local businesses. Be generous and supportive and you will receive the same kindness back.

Share your good news storiesThe Mental Health Foundation is encouraging people to share their acts of kindness using the hashtags #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. You can also get in touch with us @NDML and share your positive news stories with us.

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