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Kent stirred his coffee as Donna shared the details of her hectic week. She was incredibly overwhelmed. Kent empathized. He’d just finished telling Donna and the rest of the group how anxious he’d been lately about his busy work schedule. Before Kent spoke, a man named Liam told them he was worried about slipping into depression, which he’d battled in the past.
Over the next hour or so, multiple group and individual conversations occurred. All were centered around the mental health concerns of those present. If they started to get off topic or there was a lull in the conversation, Gary stepped in to facilitate their conversation. By the end of the night, Kent, Donna and the others were all glad they had come.
It was good to know they weren’t the only ones struggling – the only ones with questions, issues and mental health concerns. They felt understood and encouraged.
Welcome to the Frazzled Café
This scenario offers a glimpse into the goals of a new initiative led by Marks & Spencer’s (M&S) retail stores. The mission is to provide a unique mental health resource. The retailer is offering their Frazzled Café as a place for people to meet and anonymously discuss their struggles.
M&S has partnered with author, comedian, and mental health awareness campaigner, Ruby Wax, to create the Frazzled Café. These sessions are held every two weeks after hours at M&S cafés. Anyone feeling stressed out, beaten down, or worked up can meet to talk about what’s going on in their minds and hearts. The Café offers a safe, anonymous, and non-judgmental place to share their stories and their lives. Volunteer facilitators like Gary are present to lead discussions and keep things running smoothly.
Why the Café?
Creators of the café want to provide a free, easily accessible resource for anyone to talk about mental health. The point is “to provide spaces where it’s okay to admit that you’re not okay.” It’s not designed to replace formal therapy or medications, but is simply an additional tool people can use to find release and support. This not-for-profit effort will soon be a registered charity.
Ruby Wax explained, “…with all this pressure, so many of us have nowhere to go to meet and talk about it. Frazzled Café is about people coming together to share their stories, calmly sitting together, stating their case and feeling validated as a result.”
Over the next few months, 11 M&S stores will be hosting Frazzled Café meetings. They plan to add new locations throughout the year.
Image Courtesy of iStock