Finding somewhere safe to talk about your mental health without judgement can be tough.
But, comedian Ruby Wax is trying to do something about that. Wax has teamed up with Marks & Spencer to launch “talk-in” sessions where people can share their thoughts in a safe, anonymous environment.
“Frazzled Cafe” meetings will be hosted fortnightly at M&S Cafes after hours and led by trained volunteers. The retailer says people who are feeling ‘frazzled'” can meet to talk and share their personal stories in a “non-judgemental” space.
Wax a mental health campaigner and author of A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled spoke at the London Book Fair about her motivation for launching Frazzled Cafe.
“We live in a time where to have a life crammed to the hilt is considered a success story. But with all this pressure, so many of us have nowhere to go to meet and talk about it,” she said.
“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,” Wax continued.
The idea for the cafe came from Ruby Wax’s tour “Sane New World,” which saw the comedian travel around the UK to talk to live audiences about mindfulness. In second half of her shows, Wax would ask audience members if they wanted to speak and they always did. When Wax moved the show to London, she opened the theatre to the public for free weekly walk-in sessions with therapists and speakers. The sessions’ popularity gave Wax an idea to create a space where anyone with a mental health concern could get peer-to-peer support.
M&S says the meetings which were successfully trialled in its stores and offices last year are not designed to provide therapy for attendees. “Their purpose is to provide a space where people can talk openly with others who understand how they are feeling a place where it’s ok, to not be ok,'” said a statement.
Frazzled Cafe meetings will be taking place in eleven M&S stores over the next few months, with three venues in London, in addition to Brighton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cambridge, Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Canterbury and Norwich. The retailer says more locations will be added throughout the year.
Those wishing to register to attend the Frazzled Cafe or to find out about the roll-out schedule can visit www.frazzledcafe.org.
Consider the following resources if you are experiencing mental illness and want to seek help, call the Mind Infoline 0300 123 3393 (UK) or text 86463. If you’re based in the U.S. call the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).