A Vancouver duo has won $50,000 USD to launch a mental health program for those working in the bartending industry.
Vancouver bartender Alex Black and psychology advisor Mackenzie Chilton were named the winners in the inaugural Tahona Society Collective Spirit competition, receiving a $50,000 USD grant to expand their concept Mind the Bar.
The pair pitched a mental health network called Mind the Bar that aims to improve mental health in the service industry by providing counselling and resources.
Black and Chilton will now use the grant to hire counselling staff who will be available to talk to and give advice to those dealing with addiction, workplace harassment, depression, anxiety and other industry-related challenges. The counselling program will initially launch in Vancouver but the pair hope to scale up and expand the platform across Canada in an effort to improve bartender welfare.
“It’s time to take care of ourselves as well as we take care of our guests,” reads a slogan being used on Mind the Bar’s social media platforms.
Chilton called the next step of Mind the Bar “transformational for the bartender community in Canada.”
“I can’t wait to return home to work on this amazing project and to ensure that anybody who needs help, gets help,” she said after winning the competition hosted in Los Altos which is located in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.
Black is currently the head bartender at Wildebeest Vancouver.
“This is just the beginning of the #lastcall for mental health issues in the industry,” Black wrote in an Instagram post.
The competition is hosted by Altos Tequila and challenges bartenders to present new sustainable initiatives, events or projects that benefit bar staff, customers, the community or environment. A total of 15 finalists competed this year.
“We are incredibly excited by Black and Chilton’s Mind The Bar project as it resonates with Altos’ care for people and we look forward to seeing it being brought to life in Canada,” said Dré Masso, Altos co-founder.
Participants were treated to two days of immersive tequila training last month prior to the competition where 15 finalists were selected to present to a panel of judges.