Leisure and Lifestyle

Smart Serve Ontario Launches Campaign to Provide Free Mental Health Services

Toronto, Ontario – In response to the pressing mental health crisis gripping the hospitality industry, Smart Serve Ontario has initiated the “Smart Serve Cares” campaign. This pivotal endeavor aims to offer essential mental health services to over 550,000 active Smart Serve certificate holders, aligning with the organization’s commitment to responsible liquor sales and service practices.

Collaborating with esteemed partners Not 9 to 5 and GreenShield, Smart Serve Ontario endeavors to address the profound challenges faced by hospitality professionals. Not 9 to 5, a dedicated non-profit advocating for the mental health of individuals in the hospitality sector, joins forces with GreenShield, Canada’s preeminent national non-profit health and benefits company.

The campaign’s timing is critical as the hospitality industry grapples with post-pandemic strains, with many establishments operating under financial duress. The toll on the mental well-being of hospitality workers, already prone to high burnout rates, is evident. Smart Serve Cares aims to shed light on these challenges and extend meaningful support to industry professionals.

Gyan Chandra, Board Chair of Smart Serve Ontario, emphasized the significance of this collaborative effort: “The hospitality industry stands at a critical juncture. The industry has faced unrelenting pressure, triggering a concerning rise in mental health and substance use challenges among hospitality workers.”

Research by Not 9 to 5 underscores the severity of the situation, with alarming figures indicating high rates of burnout, depression, and anxiety among front-line food and beverage staff. Despite this, professional help-seeking remains low due to financial constraints.

The Smart Serve Cares campaign offers a comprehensive suite of mental health resources, including three hours of free virtual counseling with qualified therapists, access to GreenShield’s Digital CBT program, and unlimited online resources via GreenShield+.

Hassel Aviles, Executive Director of Not 9 to 5, highlighted the significance of psychologically safe workplaces, emphasizing that investing in mental health programs benefits all stakeholders. Aviles expressed optimism about the program’s potential to foster healthier, more effective workplaces within the hospitality sector.

Participants in the Smart Serve Cares campaign will also gain access to Not 9 to 5’s CNECTed online certification program, designed to equip hospitality professionals with the necessary skills to navigate mental health challenges effectively.

Joe Blomeley, Executive Vice President of GreenShield Health & Enterprise Growth, stressed the importance of prioritizing mental well-being in the workplace, reaffirming GreenShield’s commitment to providing equitable access to care.

The Smart Serve Cares campaign marks a significant step towards empowering hospitality workers to prioritize their mental health, equipping them with the tools and resources needed to navigate industry challenges effectively.

For more information, visit www.smartserve.ca.


The launch of the Smart Serve Cares campaign represents a commendable effort by Smart Serve Ontario to address the critical mental health needs of hospitality workers. By partnering with organizations like Not 9 to 5 and GreenShield, Smart Serve Ontario is demonstrating a commitment to holistic support for industry professionals. This initiative not only raises awareness of the mental health challenges within the hospitality sector but also provides tangible resources and solutions to support individuals in need. As the campaign unfolds, it is hoped that it will catalyze broader conversations about mental health in the workplace and inspire similar initiatives across industries.

Tiana Squire

Tiana Squire is our Leisure and Lifestyle Writer, dedicated to covering a wide array of topics including restaurants & bars, fashion, travel and tourism, family events and entertainment. With a passion for exploring and sharing the best in leisure experiences, Tiana brings her unique perspective and enthusiasm to each piece she writes. For inquiries or feedback, contact Tiana at tiana.squire@gtaweekly.ca.

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