Anthony Bourdain's death shedding light on depression in the restaurant industry

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The passing of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain is shedding a light on mental health issues in the high pressure restaurant industry.

"It's unfortunately a very common thing in our industry, more so in the last few years than ever before," said
Chef Brett Sawyer of The Plum in Ohio City.

He deals with his own demons and says seeking regular help was the best decision he's ever made.

"A lot of us come from backgrounds of addition, background mental health problems. There is not a lot of screening or scanning to get into the restaurant business.  If you can do the job you get hired," he said.

Sawyer says Bourdain's book Kitchen Confidential not only inspired young chefs like himself, but exposed the underbelly of the restaurant world.

"The high stress levels of the kitchen, the intensity to continuously be perfect. Work without complaining, never take time off," he said.

Lack of health insurance can be a problem too, given that many restaurants are small businesses.

Sawyer says the key to mental health in the restaurant business is a good work life balance, because 60-80 work weeks can be a recipe for disaster.

"If you already have mental health issues or already have addiction issues those will just be more prominent because you have no time to deal with them," said Sawyer.

He hopes that after Bourdain's death those issues will be a thing of the past, along with the need to keep quiet about it all.

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