Ontario hospitality workers could be eligible for  free mental health services, including couples counselling – NOW Toronto


All hospitality workers certified by Smart Serve Ontario are eligible to receive free mental health services.

On May 9, Smart Serve partnered with a mental health advocacy group. Not from 9 to 5 and non-profit health and benefits organization green shield develop the Smart Serves Cares campaign to address substance use and mental health issues in Ontario’s hospitality industry.

“[The campaign] “raises awareness of the sector’s mental health challenges and provides the necessary support and resources to those who would not otherwise have access to mental health services through their employer,” Smart Serves states in its website.

All valid Smart Serve certificate holders will be able to access three hours of virtual mental health counselling.

The Smart Serve program is approved by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) as the only certified alcohol training program for Ontario.

Green Shield also offers a Member Assistance Program (MAP), which consists of personalized counseling for members and their dependents with therapists who meet cultural, linguistic and clinical criteria. Couples therapy is also offered.

Certificate holders will also be able to access digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help people with anxiety and depression through self-directed and counselor-led models, as well as GreenShield Pharmacy to manage prescriptions.

No 9 to 5 published a mental health survey in 2021 showing the decline in mental health among food service workers.

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The report found that 87 per cent of frontline staff have experienced burnout, 77 per cent have experienced depression and 84 per cent have had high levels of anxiety. Meanwhile, 62 percent of workers said they did not seek professional help due to financial barriers.

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Smart Serve certificate holders will also have access to Not 9 to 5’s CNECTed workplace to obtain a mental health certification later in 2024. CNECTed is a self-paced course to develop psychological safety, harm reduction and how to address the challenges of substance use in the hospitality industry. while learning from other professionals.



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