A duo out of Vancouver has won a US$50K grant to launch a mental health program to help those working in the bartending industry.

#lastcall for mental health

The winners of the inaugural Tahona Society Collective Spirit competition were bartender Alex Black and psychology adviser Mackenzie Chilton, receiving the grant to build on their concept Mind the Bar. The competition was hosted in Los Altos, which is located in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.

Black and Chilton pitched a mental health network called Mind the Bar that aims to provide counselling and resources to improve mental health for those in the service industry.

View this post on Instagram

I'm sick of watching good people fight a war against mental health on their own. I'm done with the idea that you're somehow less of a human being because you're depressed. I'm over watching friends struggle in silence because they're fearful they'll lose their jobs, their friends or their loved ones if they admit they're struggling with something. It's time we made sure that people don't need to shoulder shame on top of depression or anxiety. It's time we made sure those close to us stop feeling like a lesser human being. – Alex Black, Director, Media Relations Tomorrow, join us for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1804326096322285/?ti=as #LastCall #TakeCare #86d #MindTheBar #hospitality #hotel #restaurant #server #chef #bartender #food #drink #bar #mentalhealth #suicide #addiction #mentalhealthawareness #anxiety #depression #wellness #recovery #alcohol #harassment #rapeculture #sexualassault #cantdothisanymore #help #Vancouver

A post shared by Mind The Bar Canada (@mindthebarcanada) on

The pair will use the grant to hire counselling staff that will be made available to talk and give advice to those dealing with depression, stress and anxiety, addiction, workplace harassment, and other challenges that plague the industry. While set to initially launch in Vancouver, the duo hopes to eventually scale up and expand the platform across Canada with the goal of improving bartender welfare nationally.

On Mind the Bar’s social platforms reads a slogan: “It’s time to take care of ourselves as well as we take care of our guests.”

Chilton believes the next step for Mind the Bar is “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,” said Black, who’s currently the head bartender at Wildebeest Vancouver.

View this post on Instagram

I still am at a loss for words about what happened last night. But seeing that a brand is willing to the steps necessary for change is beyond huge. – This is just the beginning of the #lastcall for mental health issues in the industry – Thank you to @dremasso @altostequila @tahonasociety – Thank you to our new #CollectiveSpirit family – Thank you to everyone who inspired, supported and cheerlead for @mindthebarcanada throughout this process, and since the beginning – To everyone following who might be struggling, who might be uncertain what to do or who to talk to: know that you're not alone, know that help is on the way. Know that it's ok to not be ok – #altostequila #tahonasociety #love #mentalhealth #takecare #anxiety #depression #bartenderlife #server #chef #hospitality #thankyou #support #health #hope #recovery #mentalhealthmatters 📷 by @kelseyramage

A post shared by Alex Black (@blacktending) on

“This is just the beginning of the #lastcall for mental health issues in the industry,” Black wrote in an Instagram post.

The competition was hosted by Altos Tequila and task bartenders with the challenge to present new sustainable initiatives, events or projects that benefit bar staff, customers, the community or environment. This year a total of 15 finalists competed

“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.


Stay up to date with the latest news and updates