GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A new beer that launched this week is not only helping bring awareness toward the issue of mental health and well-being, it is also funding counseling services for all of the employees at Mitten Brewing Company on the city's west side.
The 'Things We Don't Say IPA' was tapped on Monday and will be sold at least until this first batch runs out.
“Mental health resources aren't something you see provided by small companies, and especially in hospitality, where it's arguably needed the most,” said Chris Andrus, Co-owner of Mitten Brewing.
Andrus has dealt with mental health issues on and off for much of his life, and understands the importance of interventions like counseling.
“I think the biggest impediment to seeking mental health resources is taking that first step of admitting that you need to see somebody,” Andrus said.
Of course, 2020 was particularly difficult.
"This year, when hospitality personnel have been subjected to all kinds of abuse and change in circumstances, and dangerous health, work environment... it seemed like the perfect time to get this up and going,” Andrus said of the initiative.
So on Monday he announced the launch of the new IPA on Facebook, saying, "I have struggled with mental health issues for most of my life. We've joined our friends at Trail Point Brewing Company to brew a beer designed to bring awareness to these issues that exist in our (and every) industry."
Through a partnership with The Well Being (Leonard Street NW, Grand Rapids), all employees at Mitten Brewing will have access to counseling services at no cost to them whatsoever.
“We wanted to make it a clear pathway and zero costs. Not a co-pay, not a little bit of 'help us help you,'" Andrus told FOX 17.
"We gave our team members contact information for the counselors at The Well Being, and it's totally private. I never know who sees them.”
Christy Buck, executive director of Be Nice., says actions like this take away some of the most common barriers people face when they're attempting to find help.
"One of the biggest protective factors for mental health, suicide prevention is access to counseling," Buck said Tuesday.
“It's amazing that The Mitten is going to move forward to make sure that their staff have access to counseling.”
Andrus says he has already heard from other area businesses interested in trying something similar, encouraging businesses of all sizes to make the mental well-being of staffers a top priority.
“This morning we were already talking about brewing a much bigger batch because customer support yesterday was huge for it. It was our top-selling beer, and we had an amazing day,” Andrus said.
Mental Health Resources for West Michigan
Network 180— 24/7 Crisis Services
Pine Rest— Emergency Mental Health Evaluations/ In-Patient and Out-Patient Services
Forest View Hospital— Mental Health Referrals/ Assessments
If you or someone you love is struggling mentally or thinking about ending their life, you can always call the Suicide Hotline at (800) 273-8255.