Partner content: Looking after your team’s mental health

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With guidance from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) and our FairKitchens community, check out some advice for looking after each other and ourselves.

What can I do as a manager?

“This is a really good chance for employers to normalise mental health conversations and find opportunities to ask people ‘hey, is everything okay?’,” says Mark Lewis, CEO, Hospitality Action. “Work can be a full-on, adrenalin-fuelled place where people might not be comfortable having emotional conversations. It’s about getting that culture in place of asking after each other. Slowly but surely building that sense that there is a will to listen. Everybody is feeling disconcerted by what’s going on. We need to show flexibility to our team members. As employers, we can’t necessarily expect that they can work in the way that they have done in the past.”

How can I spot if a team member is struggling?

“With the majority of people, anxiety and depression show themselves in the way people hold themselves, their ability to communicate, the way they talk. Or they’re looking down a lot and giving short ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers and not wanting to engage in conversation,” explains Chef Doug Sanham, Pilot Light Campaign. “These are the times that you want to start asking open-ended questions. Stuff they can’t just say a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to. And then you need to really listen.”

SADAG’s tips to help a team member struggling with depression:

Learn more about it: 

Depression is a disease. Learn about the illness. The more you know, the more you can help your team.


Being with family and friends is very important for the person to get better. Always tell the person that you care and appreciate them.

Don’t force the depressed person to cheer up: 

Depressed people have REAL feelings. The depressed person can’t just feel better. They are not weak or lazy.


Listen to what your team member has to say. Most depressed people want someone to listen to them. DO NOT leave the person out of discussions because you think that it would be less stressful for them if they are not involved. Treat the person as normally as possible. Ask the person what they hope, feel and need.


Support is very important – tell the person that asking for help is a sign of strength. Remind the depressed person that they WILL recover in time.

Share the FairKitchen’s Helpline:

The FairKitchens 24/7 toll-free helpline – available to you, any time you need to talk.

Run in partnership with the South African Depression & Anxiety Group (SADAG), the 24-hour toll-free #FairKitchens helpline is free to all foodservice professionals across South Africa.

All calls are confidential and there’s no need to tell us your name.

Call the FairKitchens helpline anytime on 0800 006 333.

Call Fair Kitchens for help

Content supplied by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. For more information, visit

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