Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Ruby Wax’s Mental Health Cafe to Open in Nottingham M&S

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nottingham chapter.

Comedian and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax is launching the Frazzled Cafe project, a new scheme in cooperation with M&S. In the coming months, M&S will be opening up their cafes after usual store hours, in order for people with mental health issues to come in and chat about their experiences in an open, community environment. The scheme will be starting off in 11 branches, one of them being in Nottingham!

The scheme will happen once a fortnight, and will have trained volunteers hosting the events. It is being made clear that the scheme is open for anyone, from people with diagnosed mental health illnesses, to those who are simply struggling with everyday life and feel like they need people to talk to. In regards to the project, Wax has 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.’ This is a statement I agree with, entirely. For me and my own mental health, I have always found that having someone to talk to is one of the most important things when it comes to coping. This scheme, which provides a space to talk to people who may feel as they have no one to go to, is so important!

1 in 4 people in Britain experience a mental health problem every year, and much more needs to be done to raise awareness and reduce stigma, in order to help people. Talking about mental health more publicly is one of those changes that urgently needs to be made, and so a large retailer such as M&S getting involved is such a positive step. M&S retail director Sacha Berendji has said that the project is ‘a simple, pressure- free way of tackling what can be a taboo subject’. She continued, ‘we hope that by providing free and calm venues after the café has closed, we can help any members of the community who simply need to talk about things and what’s happening in their lives.’ This encapsulates the simple but inspiring aim of this scheme. Wax came up with the project idea after coming across thousands of people who wanted to talk whilst on her book and theatre tours for her works A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled and Sane New World.

I am very enthusiastic when it comes to trying new ways to help with mental health, as I am currently dealing with my own diagnosis of anxiety and depression, and I think methods of coping in addition to the prescribed medication and counselling services available are so important to try out. This may just be the way my mind works, but I never feel more like a not-quite-working robot than when I leave the doctors with a new type of drug to try. Schemes like this really push the message that mental health issues are very much a part of being human, in my opinion. When the scheme opens in Nottingham I will definitely be heading to M&S to attend one of the sessions, and will feedback on how helpful I find it! I think this scheme would be a great idea for someone who is perhaps struggling with their mental health but doesn’t feel ready to go to their GP, in order to talk to like-minded people, and realise that they are not alone. Connecting with others about mental health is such a positive idea, and if you are in need of some support I think this project is something definitely worth giving a try.


Edited by: Amy Hawthorne