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Pilot Light: Igniting the Conversation on Mental Health

Posted on Feb 26th 2020

In 2020 it’s time to address how our work affects our mental health. Mental disorders are among the leading cause of ill health worldwide with over 450 million currently suffering. We want to help shine a light on the hospitality industry and the impact these issues are having on it.

Last year the Royal Society of Public Health released a study entitled “Service with (out) a smile” that shone a spotlight on the epidemic of mental health issues within the hospitality industry. The survey contained a haunting selection of statistics showing the apathy towards the mental health of workers.

One in five hospitality workers in the UK reported they suffered from severe work-related mental health issues, seeking out psychological support or medication to cope. Some more recent studies are even suggesting that the figure in reality is close to one in two.

Looking even further into these statistics, we see a wide range of issues people in the industry are suffering directly related to their jobs. A mere one in ten received wellbeing support or training within their workplace, it begs the question, why?

The hospitality industry is the third-largest employer in the UK, and it’s one of the most creative and diverse areas in the country. By ignoring the clear mental health problem, we are making it a less appealing industry for people to have a fulfilling career in and denying ourselves much needed innovation and talent.

So the work of hospitality-focused mental health is more important than ever; which is why Oliver Harvey is supporting the efforts of the Pilot Light Campaign.

Pilot Light Logo

Pilot Light is a mental-health focused enterprise founded by two chefs, Andrew Clarke and Doug Sanham.

They were inspired by working in different parts of the hospitality industry and seeing the struggles they saw by hard-working people. So they wanted to work with people from all backgrounds who help make the hospitality industry run smoothly day-in-and-day-out. Whether it’s on the ground floor of a hotel or in the back of a restaurant, they want to get the hospitality industry to “burn the silence and ignite the conversation.”

Andrew and Doug are working to create accessible training programs for employers to foster positive relationships with staff and change the hospitality industry’s culture surrounding mental health. Starting out in the UK, they want to change it on a global scale.

They invite companies within the industry to outwardly express their commitment to improving the lives of workers through active mental and physical support. They’re creating these programs in the hope to be the first step many restaurants, bars and hotels take to creating an industry-wide change to how we look at mental health. As two full-time chefs, they’ve put in an incredible amount of work into creating this campaign.

Workplace stress is becoming an increasingly common issue in employees across all sectors at the moment. In a recent survey cataloguing the current climate of lifestyle in the UK workers, many reported they feel more stressed out than they did five years ago.

Feeling alienated is something we all have to deal with, but with the hospitality industry when it comes to seeking support or even something as simple as booking a doctor’s appointment can be quite a task. A lot of the hospitality workers are on shift during the times these are available to the public. So trying to arrange mental health support around changing shift patterns or a zero-hours contract can mean you’re not getting access to the right level of support at the time you need it.

And it’s concerning to the industry as a whole.  Two-thirds of hospitality workers don’t believe the sector does enough to look after its workers in regards to mental health. This incredibly prevalent issue is leading us towards an industry time bomb. By not providing adequate mental health support in the industry, we’re pushing out potential leaders and innovators who could help create a whole new wave of success in hospitality.

Mental health problems are also especially prevalent with chefs. In a study, 80% of chefs said they’d suffered a mental health episode directly related to their work. There is a particular culture one associates with chefs, a very high-pressured, perfection-led climate that can often lead to very negative feelings if you find yourself slipping. Although it’s not in every kitchen, the percentage of chefs experiencing these problems shows it’s something to consider.

In fact, it was while reading the personal stories posted on Pilot Light’s website, where chefs from all across the UK wrote about how they dealt with mental health issues that could often be exacerbated by their chosen career that motivated us to get involved. Stories from chefs like Darryl Quested, Jools Moore, Chantelle Kallmeirer and Jamie Lumsden who are all incredibly successful and respected in their field but also managed mental health issues while pursuing their passions at the same time. And that is to only name a few.

At Oliver Harvey since opening our doors in 2009 we’ve devoted our time to creating something above the norm for chefs. Whether that’s refining our designs, releasing new styles based on your feedback or delivering a sustainable range, we want to create a brand that chefs want to engage with on many levels. So we like to do more. We sponsored Hayden Grows as he cycled in support of a cure for leukaemia and it’s why we always sponsor the Hospitality Action Polo Days. Chefs make Oliver Harvey great, and we want to make sure as many of you as possible continue to make the industry a creative, supportive and dynamic place to work.

So why not use our skills at creating stylish apron to support Pilot Light’s vital campaign?

We’re immensely proud of our Pilot Light Apron. A stylish piece that’s still ‘work-appropriate’ so you can proudly display your support on the job. The elegant cotton apron with leather accoutrements still has all the class, functionality and durability you’d expect from us including a hip and pen pocket. Still, the Pilot Light tax tab is a little addition for you to bring this cause with you to your workplace. 

The Pilot Light Apron

And for every Pilot Light Apron sold £5 will go to supporting all current and future Pilot Light programs.

We wanted to create something that still feels accessible to an Oliver Harvey wearer (so it even includes our signature Oliver Harvey sharpie). The cotton with leather apron is a flexible look for both front of house or back of house. The added pocket and the Pilot Light tag means you can show who you’re backing inside the workplace.

Bringing the conversation into the restaurant or kitchen with the Pilot Light apron is a small step, but it could be the first one for your workplace.

As we settle into the new decade, we want to do more to create a positive environment for chefs to reach their full potential.

If you want to know more about the Pilot Light campaign head on over to their website and learn more about their mission to create the best content and resources to help everyone in the hospitality industry. If you’re planning on contributing to Pilot Light’s campaign, whether that’s by fundraising or creating content, then please let us know! By emailing us or tagging us in your adventures on social media, we want to help you along on this mission as well.


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