Mental Health in the Hospitality & Travel Industry

How are you feeling?

Mental Health in travel is a topic that is currently prevalent in society. We’re 20 months into a pandemic that none has experienced before. The travel reductions due to the Icelandic volcanic eruption or after the atrocities of 9/11 can’t compare to the events since 2019. Everyone is highly self-aware of their mental health due to the pandemic and its continued sustained and relentless mental stress on us all. Covid has touched everyone – whether it’s the anxiety of furlough and job security, to the experience of working long hours during lockdown while caring for others, stress of family separations and the fraying of support connections, or the death or sickness of a loved one.

The years B.C. (Before Covid)

Mental health used to be a topic that was whispered about in low voices around the water cooler. We all knew someone in the travel industry who had experienced feelings of burn out, had a heart attack, a nervous breakdown, or even committed suicide. Sadly, not everyone has the courage to speak up in the industry and share their vulnerable strength to normalize and remove the stigma surrounding mental health.

Mental Health in Travel Awareness week

RaizUp Sweden hosted  a panel about Mental Health in Hospitality and Travel. It coincided with Mental Health in Travel Awareness week and the #ribbonfortravel campaign. We spoke to two people who shared their story. Dee Burrowes, who previously experienced severe burn out, and Rickard Amidani who shared in detail the story of his own mental health survival. 

Courage to share experiences helps others

When you listen back to the panel discussion you can sense the passion, fear, and anxiety both Rickard and Dee feel as they retell. As Rickard described his experience of how his mental health descended to the depths of suicidal ideation. It was his initial experience that made me sit up and take notice – and I am sure that everyone knows it only too well. Our experience of working long hours or having unsettled sleep, and then perhaps even anxiety. His story became even more profound as he retold the tipping point for his mental health. Dee and Rickard were the lucky ones – they survived their mental health challenges and now share their stories to help raise the issue. Sharing their stories is important as it could lead to preventative steps. The fact is that 1,168 Swedish people died in determined suicide in 2020.

Our mental health outlook for the travel industry

Our discussions led to us to ask what can be achieved in the travel industry to make a change for the better. As consultants McKinsey highlights in their report, ‘Mental health in the workplace: The coming revolution’, many companies are now reviewing their connection with their employees. They’re introducing health and wellness benefits, or incorporating mental health first-aid training for managers and employees. 

What we learned from our panel

Dee shared her advice to strengthen our mental health and resilience. My personal take-aways that I will take to heart moving forwards are:

  1. Rest: Take the time to nap or gain extra sleep – take time to re-balance
  2. Exercise: Walk in nature or swim – find something you enjoy improving endorphin levels
  3. Socialize: Spend times with friends – check in with people that are closest to you
Be kind to ourselves

I remember a quote from another RaizUp community session led by Kim A. Page where she said;

“Perfection is so 2019”.

And this resonated strongly for me. We are all human beings and not tied to our computer or the desk. We are not in the film trilogy “The Matrix’, where the premise is that the machine creates humans to steal their energy. There is life beyond work and we have to re-address the balance, especially when employees and potential recruits are looking towards their employers to actively help them achieve it.

In my opinion, we are the people that are responsible for our own lives. Each of us must feel empowered to say no to a project or role that we are uncomfortable with, to pick up the phone to check-in with a friend, to make sure we eat and sleep well. Employees are not the sum of our workplaces.

People are developed from the health of our minds. Let’s all work together to make a change.


Listen back to our RaizUp Sweden panel – Mental Health in Hospitality and Travel

Feel free to leave a comment or story, or let us know your thoughts.

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