How can I raise awareness for anxiety in local coffee shops to end stigma and provide people with resources?
I’m seeking to inform my local community about anxiety by making displaying information in nearby coffee shops. Many hard workers go to their local coffee shop to focus and work, while also purchasing coffee. Local coffee shops also are populated with regulars, people who sometimes go to the same spot every day to get their coffee fix. Together, these factors provide a great environment to raise awareness of anxiety. I want to help raise awareness of anxiety because it is underrepresented and there is still so much stigma attached. People who have been diagnosed with anxiety are often not taken seriously because it is seen as “just anxiety.” I originially had the idea of focusing on coffee shops because cofee is often bought to eliminate stress from people’s lives, and I think the stress aspect should be addressed.
Sip of Hope
Sip of Hope is my source of inspiration for this whole project. Located in Chicago, around 20 minutes from my home, this place is the world’s first nonprofit coffee shop where 100% of the proceeds go to mental health education and suicide prevention. They believe that the biggest obstacle in the mental health world is the silence, and so their environment is supportive and allows people to share their stories. I believe that there is a separate entrance that customers can use if they want to talk about mental health privately, which is such a cool idea. Check out their website to donate and get involved. I was able to interview the general manager, Brian Kmiecik, and ask him some questions about the organization.
Megan: “Can you talk a little bit about the organization’s that Sip of Hope partners with, which is Hope for the Day?”
Kmiecik: “They are our benefactor and owner. The idea for Sip of Hope came from Hope for the Day, who initially was just partnering with Dark Matter Coffee to sell a bag of coffee that had [mental health] resources on the bag. That developed further into a full-on coffee shop. Most of what they do is… proactive community engagement and proactive suicide prevention because they get out in front of people instead of waiting for someone to reach a point of crisis. They want people to know before they get to that point that there are resources available to them. They do a lot of concert outreach, they will set up table at events. For a really long time they would go out and speak at headlining events”.
Megan: “How do you think coffee shops contribute to the community around them?”
Kmiecik: “For a lot of people, it’s like their first stop of the day. So it kind of has a bearing on how it start’s their day, and there’s a familiarity with repeated routines like that and people feel comfortable. I think it also offers a place for the community to interact with each other outside of work in their home”.
Megan: “How do you think other coffee shops can be more accommodating to mental health?”
Kmiecik: “That’s tough to say. Equipping yourself with the tools to interact with someone in crisis is free. It’s the same as like learning a skill online or watching a youtube video. You know, anyone can go out and access those skills, and really become a better listener and treating people like human beings instead of customers or a hassle if they are making a difficult request. It’s a great opportunity to equip yourself with those tools, and apply it to your community because you can see it come back to you and how people support you and your coffee shop”.
My second local coffee shop that I am focusing on is PiniPico, which will be opening soon in my neighborhood. PiniPico is also conveniently opening across the street from my school, and so the shop will get a lot of customers who will be stressed from all their work. I believe this is the perfect place to inform people about anxiety. The owner, Lou Dias, moved from Brazil to America and opened a coffee shop at a different location in Chicago before opening my local shop. Lou loves sharing his Brazilian culture through his food and drink, and he plans to have monthly live poetry readings. I am very excited for the sense of community that Lou is planning to bring to PiniPico, and I think it is the perfect place for me to put my infographic. Check out his coffee shop if you’re ever in Chicago! I was able to contact Lou, who kindly redirected me to his son Scott Dias. I emailed Scott, an alum of my school, and I asked him some questions about mental health, his company, his story. I also asked if I could put my project in his coffee shop. Scott is in the process of getting back to me, which will be after the Catalyst Conference due date, but reach out to me if you are curious about his response! This is Lou Dias below 🙂
After brainstorming about which medium would be best for my information, I first decided to create an infographic. I wanted to make sure that this infographic included statistics about mental health because many people don’t know how common it is. I read multiple articles about healthy habits, and after pulling out the most common habits from each, I created another section using that information. Finally, I dedicated the bottom portion to allow people to seek help, which is the most important part in my opinion. I created a little blurb about how nobody should be ashamed of their mental health conditions. One of my classmates suggested that I could make a bunch of small slips that people could tear off at the bottom, which I loved. Within those slips I included a national hotline number so that people could take it on the go. I’m hoping that if people see these posters every day and become more comfortable, they can open up themselves and build more empathy for others.
I also decided to create a small business card with more information. I think that grabbing a small business card is much more casual than tearing off the phone number above, especially if some people are still nervous about being affiliated in public. Although it’s smaller and less prominent than the poster, I think both forms of medium have different benefits. I included the same national hotline as above, some anxiety tips, and a website where people can get involved in discussions to become more educated. Here is my business card!
Call To Action
I hope that by reading about my project and it’s process, you can get a glimpse at the importance of mental health and speaking up. School and work can many times create a very stressful environment, but if we build a welcoming and open community we can get through it together. I encourage everyone to be aware of these struggles in public places outside of the classroom too, like coffee shops! If you have any questions or concerns, check out the websites provided in the infographic and business card for more information on anxiety and mental health. Education is so important to help build empathy for others and correctly inform yourself!
Please Donate to Mental Health Organizations!
Hope for the Day (Partnered with Sip of Hope): https://my.hftd.org/campaign/1-for-121/c93995
Anxiety and Depression Association of America: https://adaa.org/donate