For us to help, we need help.

From Hurricane Beryl to fires in Ruidoso, and every crisis in between, Southern Smoke Foundation is there for food and beverage workers. We keep families safe in their homes. We keep the lights on for thousands. We keep the industry moving.

Application Deadlines
Ruidoso fires: Wednesday, July 31, 2024
Hurricane Beryl: Friday, August 16, 2024

For us to grant emergency relief funds to our applicants, we need funding, too.

Help us help someone today.

Mental Health Program

No-cost counseling
for F+B workers.

How We Help

In kitchens nationwide, workers know that when they hear “Behind you,” someone is close by. In an industry like ours—often characterized by long shifts, loud kitchens, sharp tools, and high stress—a strong support system changes everything. We all need someone behind us.

Through our mental health program, Behind You, Southern Smoke provides access to no-cost counseling for food and beverage workers in California, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Texas, and beginning Summer 2024, Maine, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Those who live outside of the service states can apply for financial assistance to cover mental health care needs through our Emergency Relief Fund.

A powerful recipe.

Behind You is the first mental health program of its kind—for F+B, by F+B. At the core of this program are our university partners and their clinical teams across the U.S.

We (SSF) distribute grants to universities offering accredited graduate-level programs for psychology, social work, clinical mental health, or counseling. Dedicated student clinicians provide our Behind You clients with up to 20 no-cost supervised counseling sessions (or up to six [6] months of counseling, whichever is reached first), guided by licensed clinical supervisor and the university program director.

How to Apply

(as an F+B worker)

Are you a farmer? Fry cook? Dishwasher? Distillery worker?

If the F+B industry cannot exist without what you do, then we’re behind you. To qualify for this program, applicants must currently be employed within the food and beverage industry, working at least 30 hours per week for a minimum of six (6) months.

We’re working hard to bring Behind You to all 50 states.

Here’s where programs currently exist:

  • California (Cal Lutheran University)
  • Illinois (Northern Illinois University)
  • Louisiana (Louisiana State University)
  • Maine (University of Maine)
  • Massachusetts (Boston University)
  • New York (Yeshiva University, New York University; Roberts Wesleyan University launching Summer 2024)
  • South Carolina (University of South Carolina)
  • Tennessee (East Tennessee State University)
  • Texas (University of Houston, University of North Texas)
  • Virginia (The George Washington University)
  • Washington, D.C (The George Washington University)

Interested in becoming a University Affiliate Partner? Get involved.


Those who live outside of the service states can apply for financial assistance to cover mental health care needs through our Emergency Relief Fund.

What to expect when you apply:

Rest assured, your information is kept private every step of the way. We know it takes a lot to ask for help—we’re here for you and will reach back promptly.

Interested in a referral?

Apply Today

How to get involved

(as a program partner)

Become a university affiliate partner of Behind You.

To launch new partner states and continue service in existing areas, we’re constantly working to raise awareness, increase financial support, and find more great opportunities for Behind You (learn more about our Million for Mental Health Campaign!). If you’re a university or mental health organization interested in partnering with Southern Smoke Foundation as part of our mental health program, we’d love to talk.

Please note that to increase access for workers with demanding schedules or who live in areas unconducive to in-person counseling, all of our university partners are required to provide telehealth services as an option.


Here’s how the partnering process unfolds:

Interested in partnership?

Start The Conversation

Our university partners aren’t the only ones who make this program possible.
To the generous folks behind all of us—we’re so grateful.

National Sponsors:
State Sponsors:

Interested in becoming a sponsor?

Do Something

Million for Mental Health


May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re calling our supporters to help SSF continue to provide F+B workers across the country access to no-cost counseling.

Join us in raising a “Million for Mental Health”—and letting the F+B community know we’re behind them. Every donation leads to the kinds of conversation, clarity, and relief that help a vital industry refill its cup.

Interested in joining the cause?


Frequently Asked Questions

I’m experiencing a mental health emergency, can I meet with a counselor immediately after I apply?

Your safety is very important to us. Please contact 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room and ask for a mental health professional if you are experiencing a mental health crisis. Please see the additional resources below for immediate attention.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Call or text 988 or chat
988 offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress.

Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741 to reach a Crisis Counselor
The crisis text line provides 24/7 counseling support and serves anyone in any type of crisis.

I’m a business owner/general manager and want to share this with my employees—what should I share?

You can share this website link: Link

You can also reach out to our programs manager, Sarah McReynolds, at to learn more about the program. She can answer any questions.

I’m not sure if I need counseling—how would I know? Do I have to be in crisis to apply?

It’s hard to determine when and if you “need” counseling. Counseling is there if you would benefit from extra support and the opportunity to learn coping skills and tools to help you manage your mental health day by day.

You don’t have to have a mental health diagnosis or be in crisis to seek counseling. Our Behind You program provides access to no-cost counseling as a preventative approach so you have support and the ability to learn tools and techniques to manage your mental health.

Symptoms that counseling can help with include stress, burnout, depression, anxiety, low motivation, strained relationships, feelings of overwhelm, and the feeling of being out of control of your own emotions and thoughts.

Asking for help can be hard; Southern Smoke Foundation is here to find the appropriate support for what you are experiencing. When it comes to seeking help, no problem is too big or too small. If you have questions please reach out to our programs manager, Sarah McReynolds, at

Do your clinics offer telehealth services?

Yes! All of our clinicians offer telehealth services. Making time for your mental health can be a huge challenge, and we want to make it as easy as possible for all F+B workers to get the help they need.

Is group counseling available?

Group counseling is currently available to Illinois F+B workers in partnership with Northern Illinois University. Group counseling offers a way to connect with others who have similar experiences and hear a variety of perspectives. When you are referred to NIU through Behind You, you can select which type of counseling is right for you, or try both.

What happens after I complete 20 no-cost sessions or six months of services?

Part of our goal with Behind You is to support your mental health journey after completing the program. Our team will work with the university clinical team to determine a continuation of care plan—whether that be staying with that clinician at a sliding-scale rate or applying what you’ve learned to your day-to-day life.

Is psychiatry included in the Behind You program?

The Behind You program provides access to no-cost counseling services only. However, some of our university partners can provide additional low-cost options or services within the clinic. Should you need a higher level of care, you can apply to our Emergency Relief Fund to be considered for funding to cover psychiatric services.

Do business owners qualify for the Behind You program?

Yes! The following is required to qualify you for our program:

  • Your business must be registered and operating for one year.
  • Copies of paystubs and/or any draws taken for the last twelve months. If you directly transfer funds, we will need copies of your banking statements.
  • Business documentation, including:
    • EIN letter
    • Business lease agreement
    • Food handler’s license
Are you a university interested in learning more about the Behind You program? Have any questions?

Please contact our assistant director of programs, Kristen Segesta, at for more information or to schedule a call.