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COVID-19 Mental Health Event Hopes to Help Hospitality Industry Cope

Monday afternoon’s Zoom meeting is aimed to help restaurant managers manage their anxieties

A person wearing PPE closing her eyes and hangin a “CLOSED” sign on her door, with the signing blaming COVID-19 for the business shutter.
COVID-19 has ravaged the restaurant industry.
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

The bar and restaurant industry was susceptible to mental health concerns before the novel coronavirus crisis where substance abuse is a worry and there is a lack of access to counseling. The fiscal anxieties from losing a job and the loneliness from sheltering at home have made the world even more stressful, says a member of Chicago’s bar world who’s uniquely qualified to make such a statement. Laura Louise Green wants to assist and on Monday afternoon she’s hosting a free Zoom webinar to connect workers with the proper resources and information to help folks cope during the pandemic.

Green worked as lead bartender at Duck Duck Goat, Stephanie Izard’s Chinese restaurant in Fulton Market. She’s also a licensed health professional, earning a master’s degree in community mental health counseling from DePaul University. Green currently works for Winebow. She’s also founded Healthy Pour, a consultancy for the beverage industry in which Green advocates for mental health and wellness initiatives. She’s also been involved with Support Staff, a group that helped many including those in marginalized communities.

The webinar, which is at 2 p.m. today, is open for registration. Green is targeting managers who feel the burden of being responsible for their workers who have been furloughed or terminated as dine-in restaurants and bars stay closed. There’s also the guilt that comes from keeping a restaurant or bar closed during the pandemic, as managers balance safety and fiscal needs, Green says. All of this takes an emotional toll. The speed at which the crisis hit the industry left it unprepared, she adds. Green wants to arm workers with the proper resources to ensure they’re equipped to manage.

“I understand that it can often feel lonely and isolating once you’re in a position overseeing (or owning) a restaurant or bar, let alone during a pandemic, and I hope to create space for you to learn more about what you’re experiencing and how you can manage the complex emotions that are arising,” Green writes on her Facebook page.

Green stresses that this isn’t a substitute for therapy. Today’s session will cover a variety of situations: “I am not an economist, but I can definitely speak to the fears associated with money or opening too soon,” she says.

The crisis will continue even after restaurants reopen in late June in Illinois, or whenever the government deems it safe and restaurant and bar owners can gather the proper resources to restart businesses. Green wants to support the industry throughout. Depending on the reception for the webinar, she may host other events.