Anxiety Awareness in Chicago Coffee Shops

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Beautiful Question

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

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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 🙂

PiniPico Coffee Company

My Project

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.

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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! 

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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):

Anxiety and Depression Association of America:

Sources Cited

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Share this project
  1. April 23, 2020 by Claire

    Hey Megan! I love how your final project turned out. I really wish that there was a similar coffee shop in my area because I think that their message is really important. Combatting stigma in a place where so many people filter through every day means that the impact will be widespread. And hopefully the posters and cards will have a widespread impact too! I thought that the different mediums of providing anxiety tips and the national hotline number was so cool. It spreads awareness and empathy in a subtle way, which is really important for people who might be struggling with their mental health. Overall, I’m so proud of you for how strong this project is! It’s amazing to see the initial idea and conception get to the final product!

    • April 24, 2020 by Megan

      Thank you so much, Claire! I agree that it has been very exciting seeing the process and how well it went. I was so happy when both Sip of Hope and PiniPico responded to my emails because I didn’t think that would actually happen. I also became familiar with a website that creates business cards. I never thought that would happen when I started this project! I think that shows the flexibility and creativity that all the participants have.

  2. April 23, 2020 by Panna Szabó

    Hi Megan! I really liked your project specially because I have never heard of a coffee shop like Sip of Hope. I think talking to really anyone while you are in a time of crisis can be helpful and it does not always need to be someone you trust. Sometimes the ears of strangers can be the best one which from my understanding is what the chop provides and I think that is so cool. I am really interested in whether or not you have heard back from Scott and if you will be able to share your project in PiniPico. Overall I loved your project and think your poster and business card were really great ideas. Where exactly will you be handing out or leaving the cards? Did you only plan to have them in PiniPico, or will you also leave them out in your school?
    Great Job!

    • April 24, 2020 by Megan

      HI Panna. I still have not heard back from Scott about PiniPico, but I’m very grateful that his father Lou did. I believe both of them own the shop. Fun fact, Lou’s nickname is Pini and Scott’s is Pico, hence PiniPico! This is a crazy time right now, so I plan on reaching out again when the coffee shop finally opens. I was only planning on leaving the poster and business card in PiniPico as of now, but I love your idea of expanding it. My specific project was focusing on coffee shops, but since my poster and business card are not necessarily specific to these shops, I could put them anywhere! I think my school would definitely be my next step :).

    • April 24, 2020 by Megan

      HI Panna. I still have not heard back from Scott about PiniPico, but I’m very grateful that his father Lou did. I believe both of them own the shop. Fun fact, Lou’s nickname is Pini and Scott’s is Pico, hence PiniPico! This is a crazy time right now, so I plan on reaching out again when the coffee shop finally opens. I was only planning on leaving the poster and business card in PiniPico as of now, but I love your idea of expanding it. My specific project was focusing on coffee shops, but since my poster and business card are not necessarily specific to these shops, I could put them anywhere! I think my school would definitely be my next step 🙂

  3. April 23, 2020 by Alessandra

    Hi Megan! Your project was amazing, and I really connected with it because I am also from Chicago. I completely agree that one of the most important parts of this is to give people a chance to seek help. The stigma surrounding our anxiety in our society is extremely toxic, and I think your project can really make a change. I love that you focused on coffee shops, but I was wondering if this could also be used in schools? Teenagers especially battle with anxiety, and I think having your infographic and business card around would be a good idea.
    Amazing job!

    • April 24, 2020 by Megan

      Hi Alessandra, thank you so much! My main goal for making this project is raising awareness, ending stigma, and creating empathy. I’m really glad that you made those takeaways. Once PiniPico is able to open I plan on putting my project there, but that might only be the start. I thought that PiniPico was such a good candidate because so many people at my school go to get coffee. But my next step would definitely be within the school. I could start by talking to the two counselors!

  4. April 24, 2020 by Elaine

    Hi Megan! This is a cool, unique idea for addressing anxiety and mental health; it makes so much sense but I never would’ve thought of it. I live in Berkeley, CA, so there are a ton of coffee shops here and all around the Bay Area too. Once coffee shops start opening up again (for sitting in as well as takeout) after COVID dies down, I will definitely look more closely for opportunities to spread awareness the same way you are. I’ve already been to some that have bulletin boards for posters and little shelves for business cards, so that’s probably the perfect place to start. From reading some of these comments above, I know you’re also considering how to implement this into schools. One idea I have is the school library; I think it’s purpose and environment is similar to coffee shops, so that might work. What do you think?

    • April 26, 2020 by Megan

      Hi Elaine. I’m so happy that you are planning your next steps after reading through my project. Along with the inspiration that Sip of Hope gave me, there is a Starbucks close to my home that has a bulletin board with advertisements. I was planning on reaching out to that specific location as well, but I could not find any contact info online. I was also aiming for more local, smaller businesses. On a different note, my brother is studying at Berkeley right now, but he lives in Albany. I just visited Berkeley in early February, and I really liked it!

  5. April 25, 2020 by Menna

    Amazing amazing amazing!

  6. April 25, 2020 by Madison

    Hey, Megan!
    I really enjoyed reading this! I already knew about a Sp of Hope, since my advisory visited there and talked to an employee, but was always curious if there were other coffee shops like that that are closer to where I live. So, I’m so happy that Pinipico is opening right by our school, and that you’ll be able to share your infographic and business cards. Your infographic is easy to read and to the point, and business cards are easy to carry around and (in my opinion) not as easy to lose as a thin slip of paper may be. I’m super proud of you!

    • April 26, 2020 by Megan

      Thanks Madison! I actually have never been to Sip of Hope because I wasn’t one of the homerooms that went there during our grade’s field trip-like day. But even though I didn’t go, I have still thought about it all this time because of how cool the idea is to me. I was planning on visiting before my catalyst conference to get pictures and inspiration, but sadly it was closed due to COVID-19. I hope to go there in the future.

  7. April 25, 2020 by Olivia


  8. April 26, 2020 by Andrea

    Hi Megan! Excellent work :). Have you thought about other places you could place these posters to reach different audiences? For example, a school to reach teenagers?

    • April 26, 2020 by Megan

      Hi Andrea. Yes, I have definitely thought about it! I appreciate all these comments on focusing in on schools and teenagers because anxiety has a large presence there. One of the reasons why I loved the coffee shop PiniPico is because it will open across the street from my school, so many students will go there. To push my project even further I can definitely reach out to the counselors at my school.

  9. April 26, 2020 by Sebastian

    Hey Megan! Love the project. Absolutely love it. It’s so cool and outside the box! I read the title and was immediately hooked. And you definitely followed through, with engaging writing and cool additions, like interview excerpts, you’re project is one of the most original I have seen. And it’s directly linked to your local community! How cool! My only comment is not even a criticism and is more of a piece of advice. With your posters, I think it is important that you use recycled/biodegradable paper, to ensure minimal damage to our planet. I can just so easily see someone taking on of the slips, using the number, and then tossing it aside, so best to ensure that in that scenario there is either a waste disposal area nearby, or that the paper is environment-friendly. But as I said, great project. Love it.

    • April 26, 2020 by Megan

      Sebastian, thank you so much!!! I really appreciate all the nice things you had to say about my project. I love the idea that you had about biodegradable paper, especially because I haven’t thought about that at all. I have a teacher at my school who runs a green club and is very involved in the environment. I can definitely get in touch with him to run through ideas as well. Maybe I could even think about making this digital! So many possibilities. Thanks again.

  10. April 26, 2020 by Megan

    Thanks Olivia 🙂 I just read through your presentation, and I thought it was a super important topic to raise awareness.

  11. April 27, 2020 by Caroline McCreary

    Hey Megan!
    This is such an interesting idea! I really thought the interview was super informing. Do you think Sip of Hope or any similar foundations would be able to spread to other cities and countries? Is there anything we can do to help do so?

  12. April 27, 2020 by Conner

    Hi, Megan! I really liked your project! I never had heard of such coffee shops before and I think that, especially in a time of crisis like we are today, having the ability to talk to people and having a certain type of bond can be mutually beneficial for everyone. I also loved how you made sure to include excerpts from your interview! Great idea! I hope you and yours are doing well in this trying time! I also hope your tear-off paper handouts work! Keep us all up to date!

  13. April 27, 2020 by Sasha F Zitter

    Hi Megan!
    This is such a wonderful project. I think that putting this resource in a place that people often go to get work done (because of stress and anxiety) is a fantastic solution to the never-ending problem of being overworked and a lack of access to healthcare. I would like to know, did Scott get back to you about being able to place your project in his shop?

  14. April 27, 2020 by Emma McDermott

    Megan I LOVED this project!!! You did such an amazing job. This is such a cool concept (partnering coffee shops with mental health awareness) that I don’t think many people have thought about before. You really demonstrated a lot of empathy by creating a business card as well so people wouldn’t feel awkward tearing off a slip of paper, etc. I really wish we had more of these coffee shops in Charlotte! If you know, does Hope For The Day have any other plans for opening coffee shops like this in other areas, or just Chicago?

  15. April 28, 2020 by Cali Jenkins

    Hi Megan! You did a really amazing job on your project and the topic is something I never would have thought about despite the fact that I use coffee shops for the exact reasons you have outlined. The interview portion of your project was definitely my favorite, it added a personal touch and made it feel like something more personal than just a screen of facts. Your project was extremely well researched and extremely effective, I am so excited to see how this project develops in your daily life!

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