Pandemic impacting Indiana hospitality industry not just financially, but with mental health

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — 2020 may be coming to an end, but the financial impact dealt to the hospitality industry is expected to carry well into next year. The toll is not only fiscal, but mental.

“The hospitality industry has always been known as an industry that struggles with mental health issues,” explains Patrick Tamm, President and CEO of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association (InRLA), “In the months of March and April we dealt with a lot of suicide awareness. Personally I’ve had three very hard conversations with three people directly, and thankfully they are still with us, and doing better.”

All too often restaurant, bar, or hotel owners have to borrow money from friends or relatives. In some cases, they may even be carrying on a family owned business that has been passed down for generations. Losing that in the pandemic can be devastating.

“The general manager of one of the largest hotels in the state, that gentleman started parking cars there just over ten years ago,” tells Tamm, “He now has worked his way up to running the entire hotel. He had to one morning lay off 90% of their staff, many of which he knew their spouses, their children’s names.”

“We can all rally our resources to cope with short term stress, but this has been going on for almost a year now,” explains psychologist Shelley Johns, “It’s showing up in the way we sleep, or the way we don’t sleep. It’s showing up for many of us in the way of weight gain or weight loss.”

InRLA has made professional help available for their members. If you are an owner or worker who is struggling, Johns suggests focusing on the present, and what is working. For many business owners and staff members that may be the stimulus relief that is on the way.

“When I’m immersed in this present moment, I’m a little bit less emotionally reactive, a little less pessimistic, and a little bit more in touch with what really matters to me, so I can make wise choices,” says Johns.

If you are having any problems with your mental health, please know that it is okay to seek help. Johns also suggests people look into exercise or comedy for a mental health boost. It could be as simple as punching up a favorite comedian on YouTube, or going for a walk.

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