One of the most popular books relating to the food service industry is Kitchen Confidential. It’s author, Anthony Bourdain, gave people outside of the industry an inside look behind the scenes and validated the problems most insiders already knew about. With his recent death, Anthony Bourdain’s legacy has brought depression and suicide to the forefront of discussion.

Because of this I wanted to write an article focusing on depression and how food truck vendors can help themselves as well as their employees before it is too late.

Knowing The Numbers

Mental Health America is a group committed to promoting mental health as a critical part of overall wellness. They advocate for prevention services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated services, care and treatment for those who need it, and recovery as the goal.

They have studied mental health issues such as depression and have come up with these statistics…

Key Findings

  • 1 in 5 adults have a mental health condition. That’s over 40 million Americans.
  • More Americans have access to services. Access to insurance and treatment increased, as healthcare reform has reduced the rates of uninsured adults. The greatest decrease in uninsured Adults with mental illnesses was seen in states that expanded Medicaid.
  • Most Americans still lack access to care. 56% of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment.
  • There is a serious mental health workforce shortage. In states with the lowest workforce, there is up 6 times the individuals to only 1 mental health professional. This includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatric nurses combined.

Because of these factors, it’s is import to do everything you can. The number one step is determining if any of your employees are suffering from depression.

Spotting Depression In Your Food Truck

For food truck owners and for that matter, any employer, identifying employees who may need support in dealing with mental health issues can be difficult. Everyone’s experience of mental illness and their mechanisms for coping with it can differ widely. Symptoms can range from the physical, psychological, behavioral and changed attendance patterns.

Increasing frequency of sick days

Is your food truck employee visiting the doctor more often but refuse to tell you the issue even under confidence? Do they seem to suffer from more than physical pains that you cannot see? Sometimes common colds, flu, stomachaches are symptoms of stress.

Increasing number of absent days for other reasons

Is your staff member taking more time off than usual with increasing frequency Are they using other reasons than being sick? Or do they call in the morning with an excuse they could not arrive at work that day?  This could flag a possibility of disinterest in work.

Loss of motivation

Depression is usually accompanied by a loss of motivation. Does your food truck employee look less enthusiastic at work or when completing his usual duties?

Changes in social behavior in the truck

Depression sufferers develop a change in social behavior. Those who are normally sociable withdraw from their friends and coworkers. Those who used to be passive could become aggressive and outspoken out of the clear blue.

Incomplete duties or tasks

Depression sometimes results in memory loss. Is your employee failing to accomplish their assigned duties on time?

Fatigue, tiredness, excessive yawning

Lethargy is one symptom of depression. Does your food truck employee look well rested or do they look more tired than before, with circles under eyes? Do they yawn excessively while at work?

Depression is not just an illness, or a problem written in a medical journal. Chances are 1 in 10 people you know suffer from some degree of depression. The CDC reports that in a given year, 6.7% of American adults over the age of 18 suffer from a depressive illness. Employees with depression could have adverse effects on your food truck’s performance and productivity in the long run. In the short run, absent employees will need their shifts to be covered, with no guess as of when they will be ready to return to work.

RELATED: Keeping High Morale In Your Food Truck

What Can You Do?

One of the simplest ways to be mindful of mental health is to maintain a healthy workplace in your truck. Ensure that working on your truck is sociable and the tasks given are manageable, and actively work to boost morale.

If you do suspect that one of your employees is suffering from a mental health challenge, the best thing to do is to pull them aside, in private, and suggest counseling or seeing a professional therapist for diagnosis. If you want to be proactive, consider installing an Employee Awareness Program to train all of your employees the signs of depression and how to handle a co-worker that they suspect has a depressive illness.

Don’t wait until it is too late to identify depression in your food truck.

The Bottom Line

As a food truck owner, you may notice that some employees seem less productive and reliable than usual. They may call in sick or arrive late to work, have more on the job accidents, or just seem less interested in work. These individuals may be suffering from depression. While it is not your job to diagnose depression, your understanding may help an employee get the treatment they need.

Have you dealt with depression in your life or business? Share your thoughts on this topic in the comment section or social media. Facebook | Twitter

DISCLAIMER: This article is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you or one of your employees need immediate assistance, call your local emergency number or the mental health crisis hotline listed on your local government website.