In light of Mental Health Awareness Week, sous chef Anthony Hart talks about his personal journey with mental health and how his involvement with The Burnt Chef Project led to him becoming a mental health and wellbeing ambassador:
I struggled with depression and anxiety for a few years and it took me a long time to speak out and ask for help. I reached out to a senior employee of BaxterStorey and they were amazing. The help and support that I received was life-changing.
During the first lockdown in the pandemic, I found out about The Burnt Chef Project and their work to tackle across the stigma surrounding mental health in the hospitality industry. It really spoke to me after my personal experience of how important it is that people should be able to talk about their mental health, in the same way as if they had a headache. Also, that managers and co-workers know how to support each other. The Burnt Chef Project did a wellbeing survey in June, and some of the figures the survey showed were shocking. It’s sad to hear and it’s time for change.
It was then that I decided to become an ambassador for The Burnt Chef Project, to help raise awareness across our industry. To become an ambassador, I had to complete an online training course which I finished in July 2020. My main motivation for joining was because I don’t want anyone to be laughed at or disregarded when they ask for help.
Since joining The Burnt Chef Project, the community has grown so quickly, going from strength to strength. We not only raise awareness, but also provide mental health training. We help raise funds to support this training through corporate sponsors and the sale of branded merchandise. The founder, Kris Hall also hosts a podcast – The Burnt Chef Journal and often has industry leaders talking about how poor mental health has affected them, their families and their careers.
As well as my day to day role as hospitality chef, I’m also a mental health and wellbeing ambassador for my operation manager’s patch. I have met all the managers and am enjoying being able to support their team’s wellbeing. With the help of my manager, I recently launched BaxterStorey’s first Wellbeing Hub which was a great success! We have lots of wellbeing events planned for the coming months, which I’m looking forward to delivering.
When I was in a bad place, my wife told me that I couldn’t give up on an industry that I have worked for my whole life and one that I thoroughly enjoy. I am very proud to be linked to such an amazing charity that has already had a positive impact on so many.