Using Chess to Combat Loneliness and Mental Health Issues in the Industry

The 5asideCHESS Battling Suicide Bus has been on the road around the UK since July 2018 fighting loneliness, social isolation and the mental health issues these problems can cause.

Sponsored by kitchen cleaning company, Bright Hygiene, the Battling Suicide Bus will be making its first visit to the hospitality industry at the Restaurant & Takeaway Innovation Expo at Excel London on November 19th and 20th. Research from the Royal Society for Public Health found that a quarter of hospitality staff have reported seeking psychological support or medication. Four out of five reported increased stress which was believed to be a direct consequence of their job. Suicides are high in the industry, particularly amongst chefs. Long, antisocial hours, verbal abuse, financial problems and drug and alcohol abuse are prevalent. Worryingly, 62% of workers in the hospitality sector do not think that employers take care of their employees. The 5asideCHESS Battling Suicide Bus team are calling on hospitality industry players to show they care by standing up for their people and getting involved. The bus has been signed with over 300 messages to people lost to suicide making it a powerful catalyst for action and change. Strange as it may seem, the team use a smaller, quicker version of chess as an ice breaker to get people talking. Chess has been played for centuries and has well documented mental health benefits as well as teaching strategies for coping with difficult situations. The real message though, is to ‘Check on your Mate’. So many of the messages on the bus run along the theme of “I just wished we had talked”. The 5asideCHESS Battling Suicide Bus team currently work with the prison service, universities, mental health wards and homeless projects as well as schools in Zambia where 5asideCHESS is being used to help tackle local issues at primary school levels. Set up as a social enterprise by a team from the hospitality sector, this industry is close to their hearts and 5asideCHESS will be heavily involved in the hospitality industry over the coming year.

The Battling Suicide Bus will be made available to visit workplaces to train teams about mental health in a practical way rather than in a theoretical classroom setting and to help get people to take responsibility for their own mental wellbeing. You can visit the bus at Excel on 19th or 20th November or contact the team through to discuss how you can get involved and make a real, lasting difference in the hospitality industry. The 5asideCHESS Battling Suicide Bus is here to Drive Change. #yourfirstmoveishello at

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