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BPS member leads mental health evaluation study to be presented by Ruby Wax

17 October 2017

Professor Paul Gilbert, a Chartered Psychologist from the University of Derby, led a study that will be presented in Birmingham today.

Each week 1 in 6 of us experiences a common mental health problem, typically anxiety or depression, often associated with stress. Far from telling people to “cheer up and pull themselves together”, the charity Frazzled Cafe has responded with a unique opportunity for people to get off life’s treadmill for an hour and a half, share their stresses in private and feel the support of other human beings, who like them, are struggling too.

These are the early findings of an evaluation study, led by Clinical Psychologist, Professor Paul Gilbert, from the University of Derby and presented by Ruby Wax to the Annual Compassionate Mind Foundation Conference, at the Holiday Inn, Birmingham, 17th October 2017.  

Ruby Wax, well known comedienne, mental health campaigner and founder of the charity Frazzled Cafe, reveals for the first time the views and experiences of people who have attended Frazzled Cafe meetings during its inaugural year.

The study found that attendees’ experiences ranged from simply needing time out:

“… having an enforced space of ninety minutes where I wasn’t paying attention to my phone and I wasn’t being harassed … when I was able to take a step off the treadmill …  where I could be with a group of likeminded and friendly people ...” (MM, 2017)

To needing something much more human:

“… feeling alone, in a dark place and [I] had no expectation that Frazzled Cafe would actually start to bring me back into society and it has; the reason for coming in the very first place was desperation, it has evolved into something much more beautiful than that.” (B, 2017)

Reflecting on the findings, Ruby Wax commented: “We live in a time where to have a life crammed to the hilt is considered a success story, but so many of us have nowhere to go to talk about the stresses that result. Feeling heard, for me, has always been half the cure and the compassion that people show to one another in the meetings that I have attended, by simply listening to others or sharing their own stories, is amazing. It isn’t therapy, it’s just being human, and we hope to soon have Frazzled Cafe meetings running across all of the UK for people to experience that. “

Professor Paul Gilbert added:

“Frazzled Cafe is a wonderful innovation that is clearly seeking to create compassionate, supportive encounters. Our minds and bodies were designed by evolution to function best in conditions of social connectedness and support. Modern societies create increasing levels of disconnection and loneliness that have negative impacts on our bodies, brains and minds.”

Elizabeth Morrison, Director of the Frazzled Cafe charity explains

“Frazzled Cafe meetings are designed to help anyone who is finding the stresses and strains of life hard to handle. We are very lucky to have the support of Marks & Spencer who host our meetings, typically in their cafes which are closed to the public in the evenings. Frazzled Cafe meetings are facilitated by trained volunteers and are designed to offer emotional support among peers as opposed to therapy."

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