According to the Evening Standard, London's M Restaurant Group will give employees additional days off to encourage better mental health. 
Credit: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

As the conversation surrounding restaurant workers' mental health gets louder, one restaurant group is taking a new measure to protect its staff. According to the Evening Standard, London's M Restaurant Group will give staff at all of its restaurants an additional four paid days off for "mindfulness."

Andrè Mannini, the group's operations director, told the Standard that the staff can choose how they spend their days.

"The restaurant industry as a whole has a reputation for not being that compassionate,” Mannini said. “It is changing, but we want to be proactive in showing we care about our staff. These mindful days can be used however people want and it gives them an opportunity to revitalise and come back to work better without having to take time off out of their leave.”

The move is part of a broader movement within restaurant industry to take better cafe of employees' mental health.

As Kat Kinsman highlighted in a piece on the new #FairKitchens program, a study conducted by UFS found "that one in four chefs has been subjected to physical abuse, 63 percent report suffering from depression, 74 percent feel sleep-deprived to the point of exhaustion, and 53 percent say they have been pushed to the breaking point." These numbers are bleak, and require immediate action.

To help promote healthier, more sustainable workplaces, many restaurant companies and groups are working to improve their HR infrastructures so staff has access to the resources they need, whether that be gym memberships or sufficient paid time-off.

But there also has to be a cultural shift. In May, at F&W's Best New Chefs mentorship program, industry leaders opened up about how they try to set better examples for their staffs—encouraging shorter work weeks, breaks during shifts, and exercise.

"We talk a lot about illness being contagious, but I think health is even more contagious," said Seamus Mullen. "We have to make positive decisions in your own life, and that starts to radiate to the people around you. I’ve watched a number of my staff stop smoking cigarettes and start going to the gym. I go to the gym with some of my cooks every week. When you start to do that self care, it encourages other people to do it themselves."