Mental health in the hospitality industry

Institute of HospitalityHospitality can be a fun, fast-paced and exciting industry to work in. But sometimes, that pressure can become too difficult to cope with alone. We’ve spoken to the Institute of Hospitality, a professional membership body for hospitality professionals around the globe, to find out more.

If you love people, you will adore hospitality. The hospitality profession is full of diverse people, cultures and opportunities. In every corner of villages, towns, cities and destinations around the globe, you will find hospitality businesses from the small family-owned to the large multinationals. This allows professionals working in this sector to travel the world. Hospitality encourages creativity, will enable you to meet new people, share memorable experiences, and develop yourself and others.

The hospitality industry has many entry routes, from education and apprenticeships to career changers. Some hospitality roles require extensive travelling, which can be a significant advantage for someone passionate about seeing the world. If you’re the sort of person who likes getting up at the same time in the morning, eating the same breakfast, putting on a suit and tie, and catching the same train every day into the same office, then hospitality probably isn’t for you. It involves a great deal of variety in terms of the hours you work and the work you do during those hours. Hospitality is a passion and teaches you life skills that will serve you well throughout your life, including building confidence and self-esteem, helping to develop your relationship and team-building skills and planning and time management, to name just a few.

“Hospitality matters because it deepens existing relationships and creates the space for new ones to flourish. Hospitality matters because it feeds the most basic human need that we all have, to feel loved and accepted” Devon White

However, 4 out of 5 hospitality professionals report having experienced at least one mental health issue during their career. Profit margins are slim and with the increased focus on saving money both employers and employees feel this has impacted their mental health. Long anti-social hours, tough environmental conditions and pressures to perform are just some of the issues hospitality professionals are fighting against daily.

A waitress sets the table in a fancy restaurant.

The Burnt Chef Project surveyed 1,273 hospitality professionals, showing that 8 out of 10 (84%) of respondents had experienced mental health issues within their career, and 46% felt uncomfortable discussing their health concerns with their colleagues.

These factors, intersected with lower wages in hospitality at entry level in comparison with other industries, can influence autonomy and choice. Hospitality workers living in UK cities must negotiate late finishes which compromises safety coupled with the rising cost of living.

In May 2023, a study conducted by the Living Wage Foundation highlighted that the hospitality sector has the highest proportion of low-paid jobs in London. According to the figures, 53% of jobs that fall under’ accommodation and food services’ (official ONS classification of ‘hospitality’), pay below the London Living Wage which currently stands at £11.95. With inflation soaring to over 10%, essential hospitality workers and their families are protected from in-work poverty, which will only exacerbate mental wellbeing.

But the world of hospitality is changing. Working practices and legislation are being put in place to elevate hospitality as an inclusive and equitable industry to be part of.

The Institute of Hospitality is running a webinar on Mental Health on 12 September 2023. It is free for members, and costs £10 for non-members. Find out more and sign up here.

Check out these resources for more information and tips on improving mental health in your hospitality organisation.

Resources in this toolkit:


​Pressure versus stress


Many roles in hospitality are fast-paced and high-pressure. This two-minute video explains the relationships between performance, pressure and stress – and how stress can cause and worsen existing mental health problems.


Working late nights can impact your sleep - and that can affect your mental wellbeing. This one-page PDF fact sheet from Unilever highlights some of the reasons why poor mental health and sleep deprivation are linked, and offers techniques for improving the amount and quality of your sleep.