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Shocking New Survey On Chef Mental Health is Released

Shocking New Survey On Chef Mental Health is Released
From Fine Dining Lovers - November 28, 2017

Anyone who has ever stepped foot in a professional kitchen knows the stresses of the environment: the intense heat, pressure and long hours worked. Its a gruelling job that most people pursue because of passion. However, a new survey by Unite, Englands largest work union, has found a large percent of chefs in London are working at risk of increased mental and physical damage because of punishing long hours.

Its been an issue of debate for a while now, but the new figures in Unites survey point towards numerous issues and the union are calling for them to be addressed. They surveyed 87chefs working in pubs, restaurants and hotels in London and some of the results are shocking.

One that stands out is that 78 percent of those surveyed said they'd had an accident or near miss at work due to fatigue. 44 percent said they worked between 48-60 hours a week and 69 percent of those people said long hours have had an impact on their health.

Theres a reason people are struggling to find cooks right now

Health, physical and mental, is one of the most important discussions taking place within the industry and these figures show exactly why. Over half of the chefs who answered the questionnaire said they had suffered depression due to being overworked and a large percentage admitted to using substances to get through their shift. 56 percent said they had used painkillers, 27 percent alcohol and 41 percent ticked the other stimulants box. The overall number of chefs interviewed is small, but when half said they need painkillers to finish a shift, its indicative of a much larger problem.

Unite is calling for a number of changes to be made in London to combat the shocking findings. First they want 11 hours rest time to become standard, one day off a week to be offered and they want to see an end to 48-hour week opt-out clauses in workers contracts.

The industry needs to change, the excessive working hours and brutal kitchen culture are harming real people and driving talented chefs out of the profession, said Unite regional officer, Dave Turnbull.

Fortunately, the issue is not being avoided by the industry, this is something echoed by many chefs and restaurants owners. We highlighted the issue ourselves with a piece on the sustainability of the chef back in 2016 and numerous figures in the industry have pushed the topic to the forefront throughout 2017. Magnus Nilsson has reduced his working hours for this very reason and chef Daniel Patterson made an honest and emotional plea, admitting his own struggle with depression, in an article that acted as a sharp wake-up for the industry.I mean, how many chefs you think are depressed, anyway? Like 95%? He wrote in the first line.

Why Nilsson has dropped his staff shifts to eight hours a week.

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