Well Week FAQs
After a summer of high-profile suicides in 2018, we were compelled to move beyond just shaking our heads in sorrow from loss, to action and efforts to reverse shocking statistics on suicide and depression across the country. Our industry is also realizing that we in the food and beverage world are at higher risk for mental illness, substance abuse and mental health crisis. The camaraderie that exists among restaurant staff is often juxtaposed with a stressful work environment, long hours and easy access to alcohol. Our very public role of caring and nourishing our guests is ironically associated with a working class that neglects its own care and is by and large under-insured. We need to take a look at our industry and learn how to to support our coworkers, friends and employees, even as we tap into our ability to help change perceptions about mental illness for the public at large. Short answer: we’re getting involved because we should.
Each establishment is donating a minimum of $1 of each featured item sale to the WellWeek fund. (NOTE: Some of you have offered to donate more than one dollar of each item sale. We appreciate the thoughtfulness and commitment.)
WellWeek 2019 benefits three organizations:
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Greater Houston (NAMI GH) provides advocacy, education, support and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives. We are committed to getting mental health help early, getting access to quality care, and decreasing treatment through the criminal justice system. Almost all our classes and support groups are free to the user, and they are all facilitated by peers with lived experience.
Mental Health of America – Greater Houston (MHA GH). Established in 1954 by philanthropist Ima Hogg, MHA GH is the area’s longest-serving mental health education and advocacy organization.
Southern Smoke is a non-profit 501c3 foundation created to raise funds for charitable purposes, principally for support and assistance for those in the food and beverage community and their suppliers.
Founded by collection of Houston-based female chefs and doctors, IHWSH unites hospitality professionals for social activism: raising community awareness and funds in support of women’s health while providing a network and community for women in the hospitality industry. In the past 2 years, IHWSH has donated more than $250,000 to local health organizations such as Legacy Community Health, Planned Parenthood, and The Rose, and is also behind the origins of WellWeek.
Due to requests, WellWeek 2019 will run for 2 full weeks this year: Sunday 09.29 – Saturday, 10.12. The campaign dates correspond with the end of Suicide Prevention Month, National Mental Illness Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day (10.10).
Our goal with this event was to raise as much awareness as possible. With the goal of complete inclusivity, we gave each establishment the option of featuring a dessert, a mocktail or really, any menu item that is designated as the WellWeek Menu Item. Zero-proof programs support individuals battling alcohol abuse, individuals who prefer not to drink alcohol, individuals with other health conditions that preclude taking alcohol. For establishments without beverage programs, a featured dessert represents self-care and self-love.
- We’ll be tabling at Southern Smoke! Come say hi and get a zero-proof cocktail!
- We have created industry-specific mental health awareness training sessions, tailored for management and staff.
- Staff Workshop, taught by NAMI GH, topics include:
– Signs of depression, anxiety, other mental
illness (observable physical symptoms)
– Preventive care in the workplace: ‘checking’ in with yourself
– List of resources to call for mental health crisis, community resources for mental health care
– How to get your needs met
– 3 emotional response stages
- Management Workship, taught by MHA GH, topics include:
-Signs of depression, anxiety, other mental illness (observable physical symptoms)
– Fostering a positive mental health environment in the workplace
– “How to listen well.” Even if you’re not naturally compassionate, what verbiage can you use to be a better leader/manager
– List of resources to call for mental health crisis
– How to respond to guests and employees in crisis
– What if you’re a manager and you struggle with mental illness
— How to talk to higher ups (confidentiality)
— Triggers — Preventative care in the workplace
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the USA
- Since 1999, US suicide rates have increased by 24%
- One in five Houstonians experiences a mental illness
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death between ages 10-34
- 54% of suicides occur in people with no diagnosis of mental health condition
- Every 40 seconds, someone, somewhere in the world, dies by suicide.
- One in eight teens suffers serious depression
- One in five women who give birth suffer postpartum depression
- The food service and hospitality industry has the highest rates of substance use disorders and third-highest rates of heavy-alcohol use of all employment sectors.
- 10% of hospitality industry workers reported an episode of major depression in the past year. For women, this rate was even higher: 15%.
For people with severe depression, it is not uncommon to think about suicide. Below is some information the IHWSH team has sourced from National Suicide Prevention’s website as well other reliable sources.
What you should know if you are worried about someone:
- Suicides are preventable.
- It is okay to talk about suicide.
- Asking about suicide does not provoke the act of suicide. It often reduces anxiety and helps people feel understood.
Warning signs that someone may be seriously thinking about suicide:
- Threatening to kill oneself.
- Saying things like “No one will miss me when I am gone.”
- Looking for ways to kill oneself, such as seeking access to pesticides, firearms or medication, or browsing the internet for means of taking one’s own life.
- Saying goodbye to close family members and friends, giving away of valued possessions, or writing a will.
Who is at risk of suicide?
- People who have previously tried to take their own life.
- Someone with depression or an alcohol or drug problem.
- Those who are suffering from severe emotional distress, such as following the loss of a loved one, a relationship break-up, or job loss.
- People suffering from chronic pain or illness.
- People who have experienced war, violence, trauma, abuse or discrimination.
- People who are socially isolated.
What we can do to help others:
- Find an appropriate time and a quiet place to talk about suicide with the person you are worried about. Let them know that you are there to listen.
- Encourage the person to seek help from a professional, such as a doctor, mental health professional, counselor or social worker. Offer to accompany them to an appointment.
- If you think the person is in immediate danger, do not leave him or her alone. Seek professional help from the emergency services, a crisis line, or a health-care professional, or turn to family members.
- If the person you are worried about lives with you, ensure that he or she does not have access to means of self-harm (for example pesticides, firearms or medication) in the home.
- Stay in touch to check how the person is doing.
If You Suffer from Depression
What you might be thinking or feeling:
- The pain seems overwhelming and unbearable.
- You feel hopeless, like there is no point in living.
- You are consumed by negative and disturbing thoughts.
- You cannot imagine any solution to your problems other than suicide.
- You imagine death as a relief.
- You think everyone would be better off without you.
- You feel worthless.
- You feel very lonely even when you have friends and family.
- You do not understand why you are feeling or thinking this way.
What you need to remember:
- You are not alone. Many other people have gone through what you are going through and are alive today.
- It is okay to talk about suicide. It can help you feel better.
- Having an episode of self-harm or suicidal thoughts or plans is a sign of severe emotional distress (perhaps as a result of the loss of a loved one, loss of employment, a relationship break-up, or experience of violence or abuse). You are not to blame, and it can happen to anyone.
- You can get better.
- There are people who can help you.
What you can do:
- Talk to a trusted family member, friend, or colleague about how you feel.
- If you think you are in immediate danger of harming yourself contact the emergency services or a crisis line, or go there directly.
- Talk to a professional, such as a doctor, mental health professional, counselor or social worker.
- If you practice a religion, talk to someone from your religious community who you trust.
- Join a self-help or support group for people with lived experience of self-harm. You can help each other to feel better.