Marks & Spencer has joined forces with bestselling author, comedian and leading mental health awareness campaigner Ruby Wax to launch Frazzled Café in M&S stores.
M&S Cafés will host fortnightly talk-in sessions where people who are feeling frazzled can meet to talk and share their personal stories in a safe, anonymous and non-judgmental environment.
Eleven M&S stores will be hosting Frazzled Café meetings over the next few months – with three in London alongside Brighton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cambridge, Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Canterbury and Norwich – and more locations are set to be added throughout the year.
Taking place in M&S Cafés after hours and led by trained volunteer facilitators, Frazzled Café meetings are designed not just for the one-in-four Britons who will suffer a mental illness at some point, but for the four-in-four who are feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by the stresses of modern life.
Frazzled Café was successfully trialled in M&S offices and stores last year. The meetings' 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’.
With the economic cost of mental health problems in the UK estimated at roughly £105 billion per year – equal to the National Health budget – and the UK rated the 7th highest nation in the Western world for prescribing antidepressants (four million annually), there’s 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.
Studies have proven that one of the best ways to beat stress is to share your feelings and research has also shown that peer-support groups can yield significant improvement in psychiatric symptoms, resulting in decreased hospitalisation, larger social support networks and enhanced self-esteem. Ruby Wax herself has come across thousands of people who wanted to talk and feel connected during her sell-out book tours and theatre shows for A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled and Sane New World over the past five years. This is what inspired her to create Frazzled Café.
“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 Café 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,” says Ruby.
To sign-up to the Frazzled Café mailing list and find out more about the roll-out schedule or to register to attend a Frazzled Café visit frazzledcafe.org.