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Colorado hospitality workers get free guidance, mental health support: "A culture that doesn't exactly have your health in mind"

Colorado hospitality workers get free guidance, mental health support
Colorado hospitality workers get free guidance, mental health support 02:17

Colorado's hospitality industry is a driving force for the state's economy. The focus around mental health for workers has become more of a priority since the COVID-19 pandemic, but industry advocates say there's still work to be done.  

According to Culinary Hospitality Outreach Wellness, or CHOW, 63% of hospitality workers suffer from depression, 84% feel stress from their jobs and 65% report using substances at work.

CHOW's mission is to support wellness within the hospitality industry and improve the lives of these essential workers. Executive Director Erin Boyle says she wants to provide a space for restaurant staff to feel heard and appreciated.

"The unfortunate thing about the industry is there's no real training about how to function outside of the workplace," said Boyle. "If you're working in an office, you might get some education around mental health or have a human resources department. A lot of folks in food and beverage and hospitality don't have those opportunities." 

Culinary Hospitality Outreach Wellness Executive Director Erin Boyle   CBS

Last year, CHOW provided 240 hours of free mental health training and connected with over 12,000 people.  

Monday, CHOW invited industry workers to El Patio to get connected with free resources like financial planning, nutrition advice and support for addiction. 

"They're working with broken legs. They are working without having gone to a dentist for 10 years because a lot of the industry doesn't have benefits," said Boyle. "We're trying to bridge that gap and provide people with opportunities and resources. Even if we don't offer it, we can connect them to somebody who does." 

Servers like Mike Tubolino have spent years in the restaurant industry waiting on other people, but their needs often come last.  

"There's a culture that doesn't exactly have your health in mind because the margins are so small," said Tubolino. "The culture tells you to work, work, work, work. For example, if you're sick, don't stay home. If you cut yourself at work, pretend you're not cut. Need to go to the emergency room? Deal with that on your day off. This is very common." 

Server Mike Tubolino   CBS

Even though it's a job where you're surrounded by people, Tubolino says the industry can still be very isolating.  

He says CHOW's dedication to providing resources is critical for workers and the customers they serve.  

"I hope people realize how important restaurants are. We're at the center of communities and workers are part of the community," said Tubolino. "As a consumer, being kind and considerate to the other human on the other end of the table is the first thing you can do."

For access to CHOW's wellness toolkit and more information on mental health and substance use disorders visit 

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