Mental health campaigner and author Ruby Wax launched her latest initiative at the London Book Fair today, a chain of Frazzled Cafes, which will open in selected branches of Marks and Spencer across the UK.
"They're not just for the one-in-four of us who will suffer a mental illness at some point, they're for the four-in-four of us feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by the stress of modern life," she told the audience before leading them in some mindfulness meditation.
The concept of the cafes comes out of her Frazzled book tour, which travelled through 80 centres in the UK, and also took the comedian around the world. "I wanted to show that it's human-to-human contact that makes life worth living. That's where you can go with the bad reviews in your head, and share with others, just like you. We've had two running as a pilot - in Brighton and Marble Arch - and people say they feel the load is lifted."
M&S has offered to use cafes, either closed or by sectioning off a portion, once a fortnight for a pre-organised group of up to 15 people. Individuals join by contacting the site frazzledcafe.org, and are then invited at a specified time. A facilitator helps to run the group. As Ruby wsays, this is not therapy, but it is support. "I wish they had been available when I needed them. Feeling heard, to me, has always been half the cure."
Sacha Berendiji, retail director at Marks & Spencer said, "Ruby's Frzzled Cafe is a simple pressure-free way of tackling what can be a taboo subject -- feeling stressed. We hope that by providing free and calm venues after the cafe has closed, we can help any members of the community who simply need to talk about things and what's happening in their lives."