Stress, tension – being under the hammer! Recognise these terms? They are all a part of our being cooks and Chefs. There is nothing like a very busy service period to bring on those three pressures. Somehow we learn to deal with these pressures and sometimes that pressure takes its toll on us – it can be called burnout, it can be called many other things but basically it means we sometimes do not cope.
HTN is committed to looking after its apprentices with their mental health and their well being. There has long been a stigma attached to the term mental health but now days it is a term that we hear so often. And for people suffering with a mental health issue, it can be a very serious, debilitating issue.
For me, I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and I have been able to learn to understand it this dreadful affliction which started for me in the Vietnam War in 1968; I did not know I had PTSD until 1998 when it was diagnosed and I started the long road to partial recovery. I soon learnt that there was plenty of ways by which I could be aided/advised to help me face up to what learnt is a mental illness – a term I have come to accept.
Given that the symptoms of PTSD can be confused with what we recognise as everyday parts of the cooking business – such as hitting the booze too much, drug abuse, mood swings and negative reactions to stress and tension, I did not recognise the symptoms of PTSD. Certainly, I was always drinking way too much alcohol, I was always overreacting to stress (my nick name was Peter Panic) and my mood swings made me not nice to be around.
After all this, I have come to realise that so many of my mates were there for me and long before the marvelous institution of R U Ok? We mates did stick together as they became just that – supportive mates and after all the people we work with become our mates. As such we need to look at the people we work with and ask them if they are OK? it is what we do as decent everyday Aussies.
R U OK?
By Peter Howard AM