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Mental health to be addressed at food industry awards

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The CEO of FoodSA is calling on anyone in the food industry to nominate for the new Mental Health and Wellbeing category in the 2022 South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards Program before the deadline on Monday.

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Food South Australia CEO Catherine Sayer said there is a range of opportunities for entrants in the South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards, especially in the new category of mental health and wellbeing.

Offered for the first time this year, the award recognises a business that has demonstrated commitment to supporting the welfare of its people through the implementation of workplace wellbeing initiatives and the promotion of a positive culture of health.

Sayer said that post Covid-19, FoodSA recognises that mental health and wellbeing has become a major issue for all businesses.

“At the Food South Australia Summit, we learned that by supporting workers they not only feel better and become more resilient, but their productivity significantly increases,” Sayer said.

“This subject has traditionally not been talked about, but it is becoming a topic that we know our industry will benefit from by knowing more about it and this new award will increase awareness of the issue and we will celebrate those food and beverage businesses leading the way who are already doing it well.”

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Award is sponsored by the Breakthrough Mental Health Research Foundation, Australia’s only dedicated mental health research foundation. The not-for-profit is chaired by Alan Young, AM, who is also chair of Solstice Media, the publisher of InDaily.

Joep van Agteren, the co-lead of Be Well Co, a spin-out from SAMMRI that delivers mental health interventions and conducts research, said he was pleased that the food industry was introducing a category that went beyond mental illness and into preventative wellbeing.

“It all comes down to the regular stresses of business, with tight margins and making ends meet,” he said.

Van Agteren, who recently won the 40 Under 40 Discover Award for his work in mental health,  said the general consensus is that at any one time about one in five people are struggling but the actual number is little higher if you venture beyond mental illness.

“We have found that two out of three people are operating at sub-optimal mental health,” he said.

He said this is why industry awards such as these are an important way to recognise these stresses and open up ways to mitigate them.

The other categories in the South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards also move beyond the traditional awards night, with the entire process – before and after – helping companies focus their efforts.

“There are also around 30 industry experts involved in judging the award categories each year, and shortlisted candidates are provided with their feedback as part of the judging process,” Sayer said.

“Manufacturers can also use this as an opportunity to benchmark their business against industry best practice and understand where they can make changes to drive improvement and growth.”

The awards program also includes additional opportunities to access the expertise of the industry’s leaders such as the Hall of Fame Breakfast and annual award winners On the Road tour.

“As with the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award, these elements of the year-long South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards Program have all been developed to foster industry connections, and grow our sector’s capability as a whole,” Sayer said.

Award entries close on Monday 4 July with the judging panel starting their site visits in mid-August before the finalists are announced on 21 September. The awards will then be announced at the gala on Friday 11 November.

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