For many of us, coming together to break bread is a chance to nourish our bodies and our souls. Gathering around meals gives people time to connect with one another and to slow down. But for the chefs, servers, bartenders and others who work in the hospitality industry, those moments of peace and respite can be rare at work. Now, Sacramento restaurateur Patrick Mulvaney is spearheading a growing effort to tackle the mental health challenges that professionals in the fast-paced industry face.
A string of sudden deaths last year in Sacramento’s restaurant scene — including deaths by drug overdose and suicide — drove Mulvaney to act. In an effort to reduce stigma and directly address the mental health challenges of hospitality professionals, he launched I Got Your Back. It’s a peer support program launched at his Midtown restaurant, Mulvaney’s B&L. It includes daily employee mood-checks and training for staff members to recognize signs of distress. This month, it’s expanding to other Sacramento restaurants as a six-week pilot project. This comes just after the one-year mark of celebrity chef and television host Anthony Bourdain’s suicide last June.
Patrick Mulvaney joins us in studio to discuss this shifting restaurant culture that recognizes and prioritizes employee mental health. John Boyd, CEO for Mental Health Services with Sutter Health, discusses that organizations role in the project. Niki Thomas, whose own experience with depression informed her participation in the project, also joins us.
Sutter Health is one of Capital Public Radio’s financial sponsors.