Rick Stein health: ‘Oh God, I’ve had a lot of therapy’- chef on coping with father’s death

Saturday Kitchen: Rick Stein comments on female chefs

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In seemingly good health, back in 2021 Stein said that he would “keep going” until he drops, with no intent on retiring. In fact, the chef took on the challenge of opening up two restaurants in Australia and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic decided to not reopen two of his six British restaurants when they were allowed to start trading again. Away from work, Stein has a strong bond with his children and two stepchildren, something that he strove really hard to achieve after losing his own father. Suffering from bipolar disorder, Stein’s father used to have lengthy periods of depression, most of which he was protected from by his mother. But after the death of his father, the chef spent years running away from the memory of him, choosing instead to travel the world, until he went to therapy.

“Oh God, yeah, a lot of therapy,” Stein said in a 2020 interview when asked if he had ever had therapy before, although this didn’t happen for years after the death of his father.

He went on to say: “I didn’t have therapy at the time of my father’s death because people didn’t do that sort of thing.

“I left the country to travel for two years and that trip shaped me more than anything else. I worked in an abattoir in Australia and it was frightful, but it stood me in good stead. I just needed to grow up.

“I wanted to be tough. I now realise I can never be tough.”

Reflecting on the impact therapy has had on him now Stein added: “I understand it now. It’s fine, I understand it.

“But it’s silly. It’s difficult to tell, isn’t it, whether you are naturally a person that likes hard work and does things, or whether you feel you’ve got to prove something?

“I know therapy is important but sometimes talking isn’t what you need — it’s experience that changes you.”

Therapy, particularly talking therapy, are psychological treatments used for a range of mental and emotional problems such as stress, anxiety and depression.

For Stein, therapy was able to help him deal with grief, which can have physical and mental effects on the body. Cruse, a bereavement support charity explains that grief can have severe effects on the following:

  • Appetite and digestion
  • Sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Physical pain.

These effects can make overcoming grief even harder, but it is important for individuals to realise the things they can do to try and help these side-effects of grief. As well as therapy, mainly includes exercising, mindfulness techniques such as yoga, eating small manageable portions and getting as much rest as possible.

There are a variety of different types of therapy but all involve working with a trained therapist. This could be on a one-to-one basis, in a group, online or over the phone.

Also known as psychotherapy, the treatment aims for the patient and therapist to work collaboratively to identify problems and create a positive change over time.

One of the most common is known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which aims to help individuals explore and change how you think about your life, and free yourself from unhelpful patterns of behaviour.

The therapy has been proven to work on a variety of mental health problems including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Some eating disorders, such as bulimia.

Impressively, the technique can also be used to treat people with long-term health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

CBT is only one of hundreds of different types of therapy available to help individuals deal with mental health problems. Mind, a leading mental health charity in the UK, lists these types of therapy:

  • Arts or creative
  • Behavioural
  • Dialectical
  • Humanistic
  • Mindfulness-based
  • Person-centres
  • Psychoanalytical
  • Psychodynamic
  • Solution-focused.

Whilst filming for another TV series in Cornwall, Stein visited a surfing therapy class in the westernmost village in the UK, Sennen Cove. Since 2010 an organisation called the Wave Project has offered surf lessons to young people suffering with mental health issues there.

Speaking about the unusual form of therapy after taking part in a class himself, Stein said: “To witness this child finding something positive in nature was something really special

“They didn’t have surfing therapy then [after his father died]. The thing about travelling alone is it’s hard work. And I’d left my mum behind, which was hard too. But a bit like that boy surfing, I remember having this moment walking along George Street in Sydney.

“It was warm and sunny and I thought to myself, ‘You don’t have to let Dad’s suicide dominate your life. This is your life.’”

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