Le Cordon Bleu Logo

Tackling mental health in hospitality this RUOK Day

Mental health in hospitality. Image of RUOK Day speech bubble.RUOK? is a suicide prevention charity in Australia, encouraging everyone to notice the signs of mental health struggle in friends, family, colleagues and school peers. To raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing in the hospitality industry, Le Cordon Bleu Melbourne will host RUOK – Conversations at its Moorabbin campus on Tuesday, September 12.

Students past and present will be invited to join the panel discussion, featuring industry leaders and Le Cordon Bleu alumni.

VET Assessor and Trainer, Chef Sebastian Simon, will host the event and is passionate about maintaining mental health among young hospitality workers.

“RUOK is a great reminder every year to take stock of your own mental state, but also someone else’s…we cannot do this alone,” he says.

“I want our kitchens to be a great environment, not just for the amazing food, but for its mateship.

“When we care for someone else and put their interests before our own, we can be the change.”

Chef Sebastian reflects on his time as a young chef, doing the hard yards to simply “get the job done”.

“I was always taught to only speak about work, recipes, efficiencies around service, but never about how I mentally and physically felt,” he recalls.

“Day after day, night after night, we cooked 300pax per service and did this on repeat.

“Some days I felt if I spoke up, I would be labelled weak or not cut out for this industry, so I shut up and kept cooking.

I want our kitchens to be a great environment, not just for the amazing food, but for its mateship.

“I wish I had the opportunity to speak with someone, anyone, when I was at my lowest point.”

Now, as a lecturer and mentor for young, up-and-coming hospitality talent at Le Cordon Bleu Melbourne, he encourages his students, colleagues and peers to value relationships by asking the tough questions.

“It’s ok not to be ok and create a safe space to talk about it; the industry will be all the more better for it,” he says.

“It’s very easy to mask feelings with drugs and alcohol, particularly in this industry, but we need to remind the new generation coming in that it’s important to create an ecosystem where there is healthy and meaningful discussions of wellness and wellbeing.

“I always tell my staff and students to find a vocation outside of cooking. Life is more than cooking tonnes of meals at break-neck speed.

“Invest in being a mate and asking those around you if they are really ok.”

If you are interested in joining Le Cordon Bley Melbourne’s RUOK Conversations panel discussion, please email Chef Sebastian Simon at s.simon@mycordonbleu.net

For more RUOK Day resources, click here