Food Industry Field Day to Raise Awareness for Mental Health

HEARD fundraises for support groups in Republic Park on Oct. 28

Last month was National Suicide Prevention Awareness month, a testament to the steadily growing eradication of the stigma around mental health issues.

Holy Roller (Photo by John Anderson)

Grasping that structural change is needed, many industries and institutions have slowly begun to offer training on how to identify someone who is struggling, and how to help. But one industry has yet to make such progress: Food service retains a culture of bravado and emotional repression, compounded by the job’s inherent physical difficulty, long hours, and high stress environment. This atmosphere often leads to substance abuse, which has become an almost expected part of the lifestyle.

But within this deeply entrenched culture, there is a vanguard of Austin chefs that have begun to push for a healthier lifestyle. Philip and Callie Speer, separated but still working together to change the conversation around mental health in their industry, have partnered with two recently founded organizations to provide support to restaurant staff. Heard and Ben’s Friends are both industry-specific support groups that help those struggling with addiction or their mental health. Heard began in San Antonio in 2018 and expanded to Austin in May, meeting in Callie Speer’s restaurant Holy Roller every Tuesday at 6pm. Ben’s Friends began in Charleston, SC in 2016 but expanded to Austin this year, meeting at Philip Speer’s restaurant, Comedor, every Monday at 11am. These organizations are steadily growing their nationwide networks, creating programs to better the lives of people in the industry in myriad ways, through healthcare, therapy, and even scholarships. But as Joel Rivas, the founder of Heard, says, the biggest obstacle they face is getting the word out.

To that end, Heard is putting on a fundraising field day in Republic Park (422 Guadalupe) on October 28 from 6-9pm, where chefs and restaurant staff from around Austin will participate in a spin on field day events (with raffle prizes). There is a $5 suggested donation at the door, and drinks and food will be provided by the Pueblo Viejo taco truck (normally be found at Cosmic Coffee and Beer off of South Congress). Holy Roller will host an afterparty from 9-11pm.

More information is available at If you need help right now, please contact:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

*24/7 English and Spanish phone counseling, 800/273-8255

*24/7 Live Chat at

National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Hotline

*24/7 English and Spanish phone counseling, 800/622-HELP (4357)

*Online treatment locator at

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