The Reason A Colorado Restaurant Hired A Therapist For Its Staff

The restaurant industry is notorious for being incredibly stressful. Employees are expected to work for long periods without batting an eyelid and ensure that everything is under control while tackling difficult and rude customers. According to The Boston Globe, the pandemic made things worse for many restaurant workers who were forced to deal with uncertainty as restaurants shut down and lockdowns were implemented in many parts of the world. It's worth noting that the industry's unemployment rate was disturbingly high at one point during the pandemic — around 40% in April 2020.

A restaurant manager wrote on Reddit about how difficult the industry can be and said, "Most people, especially those who have never worked in food service, do not understand the mental, physical, and emotional drain of food service. You're on your feet for 8ish hours, [and] you have to fake a bubbly, happy personality the whole time." They added that it's tiring to do this every day and wrote, "All [of] my emotional energy is gone. My feet/legs/arms hurt."

However, some restaurants are determined to change things for the better. One restaurant group in Colorado has decided to step up and support its employees' mental health with the help of a therapist (via NPR).

It is about prioritizing mental health

According to NPR, the owners of Bonanno Concepts, Frank and Jacqueline Bonanno, were keen on doing something to help employees at their restaurants in Denver, Colorado. After things started opening up, Frank realized that many people weren't keen on working in the restaurant industry; plus, his team struggled to find staff members. While looking for solutions, the Bonannos issued a survey and realized that "employees wanted security and mental health and then pay." 

They found the missing link: While employees were entitled to health insurance at the company, they didn't have great mental health coverage. Frank told NPR, "Most psychologists and psychiatrists are out of pocket, and we were looking for a way to make our employees happy." The Bonannos decided to hire a mental health professional instead; Jacqueline was aware that other restaurants were seeking help from licensed psychologists and suggested the idea to her team.

They appointed Qiana Torres Flores as the wellness director. After joining the company, Flores helped the restaurant group's employees by teaching them "stress reduction techniques" and the importance of meditation. She told CBS Denver, "First and foremost, I [sic] act as the in-house therapist. I run an open clinic here, where folks can [sic] come in and schedule appointments and at their leisure [and] come in and see me for a short amount of time." She added that if she's unable to help in three to five sessions, she finds "long-term care" for the employees.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.