Non-profit organization provides mental health resources to hospitality workers | Latino voices | Chicago News

In Chicago and other cities across the country, Latino workers are the backbone of the restaurant industry, and the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the physical, emotional, and financial health of restaurant workers.

Three years ago, a group of hospitality workers founded a non-profit organization that aims to connect hospitality workers in need with psychiatric care. The founders of Support Staff, both of whom have experience in the hospitality industry, say they are meeting a need that has not been addressed for too long.

“I think this is an industry where people take better care of their guests than they do themselves,” says co-founder Kristina Magro. “The majority of people can be great to you, but it’s those 10% of negative experiences that really hit you over a year, five, ten years.”

“So many times we are told that it doesn’t matter what you’re going through in your life, leave it by the door when you walk in, all you have to do is put your face on,” added co-founder Mony Bunni. “That puts a strain on your emotions.”

They started the Support Staff in 2018 with a focus on mental health. Workers seeking psychiatric care can seek advice from their therapeutic service manager, who will then help connect the worker to affordable therapy resources.

The organization also hosts two podcasts, including a series called “Bite Size”.

“This is a mini psycho-educational series that breaks down what mental health is, what emotional work, stress, coping mechanisms and the like is,” said Bunni.

When the pandemic devastated the restaurant industry, they set up the Comp Tab Relief Fund to provide direct cash support to workers in need.

“A lot of people out there risked their lives without health insurance and then not on top of that” [getting] the right care or the long hours or [being] dehumanized by the public, ”said Magro.

They also opened a storefront in Humboldt Park called People / Profit, which offers free clothing, groceries, and other resources for anyone who needs them.

“People Over Profit addresses some of these things that affect your mental health, and that’s your livelihood, this is your clothes, this is your food. We’re just trying to bring together the resources we have to alleviate some of these pressures. “

“What 2020 really revealed is that we need to have each other’s backs,” said Bunni. “We have to take care of each other”

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