Cafés within M&S stores will now open after hours on a fortnightly basis as part of an initiative with Ruby Wax to help customers improve their mental wellbeing. The idea of the cafés is to remind people "that it's okay not to be okay" and to allow people who are feeling "frazzled" to meet and share their stories in a "safe, anonymous and non-judgemental environment".
Ruby, who has been honest about her battle with depression said in a blog on The Huffington Post UK: "These meetings are for people like you and me and everyone who feels frazzled from the burden of everyday life. Often we don't want to tell our relations or friends how we're feeling because we worry that we're a burden.
People at the Frazzled Cafés listen to you and care. What's said at those meetings stays at those meetings. 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."
11 M&S stores will be hosting Frazzled Café meetings over the next few months; three in London and others in Brighton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cambridge, Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Canterbury and Norwich with more locations set to be added throughout the year. Each session will be lead by a trained volunteer.
Sacha Berendji, retail director at Marks & Sparks said: "Ruby's Frazzled Café is a simply, pressure-free way of tackling what can be a taboo subject - feeling stressed. 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."
At the moment 1 in 4 of us in the UK are struggling with some form of mental health issue and that is why I am so pleased to hear about this initiative: it really is so important to talk.
If you want to find out more about Frazzled Café, sign up to their mailing list or attend an event, you can do so HERE.
All there is left to do now is to thank both Ruby Was and M&S and wish them so much luck with this amazing project.