Despite how far we've come in reducing stigma against mental health in recent years, it can still be difficult to talk openly about something so deeply personal. But one British grocery store is hoping to change this by teaming up with comedian Ruby Wax to launch Frazzled Cafe, a safe space for people to discuss their mental well-being.
British grocer Marks & Spencer is teaming with Wax, an author, comedian and mental health awareness campaigner, to launch the cafes in 11 existing Marks & Spencer stores across the UK.
The hope is that these cafes provide a safe space where people feel free to share their personal stories, and be reminded that it's okay not to feel okay. And it's not just for those who have experienced mental illness.
"Frazzled Cafe is not just for the one-in-four of us who will suffer from mental illness at some point in our lives; it is for the four-in-four feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by the stresses of modern life," the website reads.
Every two weeks, the cafes will hold "talk-in" sessions for those who want to meet regularly and share their experiences "in a safe, anonymous and non-judgmental environment," the website says.
According to the website, the idea for Frazzled Cafes came when Wax was on tour for her stand-up comedy shows. During the second half of the shows, Wax would ask the audience if they wanted to speak — and they always did.
Marks & Spencer told The Independent in a statement that "there is a pressing need for both identifying ways to help people cope with overwhelming stress and reducing the stigma that is attached to discussing mental health."
"We live in a time where to have a life crammed to the hilt is considered a success story," Wax told The Independent. "But with all this pressure, so many of us have nowhere to go to meet and talk about it. Frazzled Cafe is about people coming together to share their stories, calmly sitting together, stating their case and feeling validated as a result. Feeling heard, to me, has always been half the cure."
According to The Independent, the cafes will open within the next few months. While they may not be a substitute for actual therapy if you need it, they are an accessible way for people to get support.
If you are experiencing depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.