Chef Andi Walker wants to use his story to help raise awareness around mental health

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th May 2018

With one in three of people suffering from issues with mental health, chef Andi Walker wants to use his story to help raise awareness around mental health by sharing his candid social media post

Did you know that three out of four people will suffer from issues pertaining to mental health at some point in their lives? This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and more and more individuals from the hospitality industry are sharing their stories.

Andi Walker MasterChef
Andi Walker

Chef Andi Walker of the Riverside Inn, Essex is just one of the brave people sharing their story of mental health issues.

He posted a very candid tweet last night revealing his struggles with depression. In his accompanying message to the tweet, he voiced his concerns about him disclosing his battle with depression but the impetus behind his decision was seeing his friends struggle to the point where they felt that their only option was to do ‘the unthinkable’.

By sharing his story, chef Walker is hoping that this will encourage others who are also fighting their own battles against depression, anxiety and similar that ‘there is hope’.

Andi highlights that problems with mental health are rife within the hospitality industry, citing the stress and pressure that chefs (and other hospitality workers) put upon themselves.

Whilst filming MasterChef: The Professionals, Andi felt at his lowest and to this day, he maintains that he ‘literally had no idea of how he got through it’ and thanks his friends on the show for helping him get through the process.

andrew clarke
Andrew Clarke

Sadly, Andi’s story is not an isolated case and the hospitality industry is certainly suffering from increased levels of issues with mental health. Chef Andrew Clarke has revealed his own battle with depression after he posted an honest account of his experience of depression on his Instagram page last year. This subsequently led to Andrew being featured in an article by food critic and writer Jay Rayner for a piece in The Guardian asking the question 'Is being a chef bad for your mental health?'

This has resulted in the launch of the Pilot Light campaign which launched earlier this year and aims to get people having an open dialogue about mental health.

Whilst the pressures of the kitchen have clearly had an impact on Andi, he is adamant that despite these struggles that it has also been his saviour too. He comments that “The industry has saved me, for all the long hours and hard work it gives me a sense of where I belong”

Andi wants to encourage other people suffering to speak up and cites his son as the motivation to keep him on track. He says: “This shitty illness stands no chance at all if it thinks it is coming between me and my son. I just want to speak out so other feel that they can..never judge anyone or their story…and for fucks sake, speak up!!! You are not alone and there is always someone that can help”

He concludes his powerful message with a plea to spread his story and comments that ‘if one person reaches out and asks for help’ then he is happy that his bad times have helped someone else.

andi quoteHis post has received a number of replies from several chefs within the hospitality industry including Anton Piotrowski who retweeted Andi’s emotive tweet adding his comment: “As someone who’s suffered from depression myself, let’s not allow others to suffer in silence. Speak up and let’s stop the stigma that’s far too closely attached. Only this way can we help others and our future generation!”.

Chef Andrew O’ Connor echoed Anton’s thoughts saying “Well written chef. I struggle too and hit the drink hard at times to blank everything and everyone out. #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek”

Jon Fell, Alan Paton, Jon Roper and James Brandon amongst others have also tweeted messages of support and Andi has also received lots of positive support from people outside of the cheffing community too.

By Emma Harrison

@canteenemma

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th May 2018

Chef Andi Walker wants to use his story to help raise awareness around mental health