This bartender is on a mission to improve mental health in her industry

bartender mental health
Posted at 3:40 PM, Feb 10, 2023

BALTIMORE, Md. — If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a nice cocktail or drink, sitting at a bar can sometimes be a place to escape. But if you’re the person behind the bar, like Amie Ward, serving customers can often be stressful.

"In terms of harassment in our industry, there are incredibly high numbers," Ward explained.

Ward, 41, first got into the service industry at the age of 14. She now bartends around the city of Baltimore. But nearly three decades of hard work have taken a toll on her body. She knew it was doing the same to others in the industry, so she decided to do something about it.

"I was watching people being in constant pain behind the bar," Ward said.

A few years ago, Ward created what’s known as“Healthtender” training classes. Ward is also a personal fitness coach. She's now developed stretching classes, yoga classes, and even pool workouts in the summertime—all aimed a promoting physical fitness specifically for servers.

"Being in the industry is an athletic endeavor because you’re on your feet for 12 hours a day, more than most endurance athletes are," she noted.

Ward often has clients video themselves for 30 minutes while working, and then, she analyzes movements that might be causing pain. She’ll suggest ideas to a bartender to prevent injury like adjusting how they hold a bottle or maybe not mixing a drink too rigorously.

"I can teach people how to hold their body behind the bar and engage their core and what their posture looks like.

There’s a mental health aspect to all to all of this service industry wellness training, too. Ward will often connect folks to a group called Heard. It's an online portal where people in the food and beverage industry can go to attend free online support groups.