“A place where it's ok, to not be ok.”

By Rebekah Lowin
Updated May 24, 2017
frazzled cafe mental illness open space
Credit: © Marks & Spencer

Hot coffee, flaky pastries, and...talk therapy?

That’s the idea behind the new “Frazzled Cafés” coming soon across the UK. And the entire project sounds pretty incredible.

The brainchild of comedian and mental health advocate Ruby Wax, the “café” will actually take the form of a fortnightly gathering in existing restaurants at Marks & Spencer stores across the UK. The basic idea is that people can come together to share their personal troubles and mental health stories in a compassionate, tolerant setting.

The best part? There’s food.

Wax teamed up with the mega-popular British retailer to launch the talk-back sessions in eleven of their stores over the next few months, but many more stores are reportedly joining in as the year progresses. Every two weeks, the in-store restaurants will close for the day, and trained volunteers will arrive to host the Frazzled Café project for a group of drop-in participants.

Pairing food with a safe, tolerant environment is much more than just a fun idea, though; it’s a crucially important one. Last year alone, mental health costs in the UK reached approximately £105 billion, or about 128 billion US dollars, according to the Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS. And the number of antidepressant prescriptions in England has doubled in the past 10 years.

As M&S aptly commented in their press release announcing the new cafes, “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.”

Wax added her own thoughts. “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.”

“Frazzled Cafe is about people coming together to share their stories, calmly sitting together, stating their case and feeling validated as a result.”

If you’d like to attend a Frazzled Cafe or find out more, visit www.frazzledcafe.org.