Leeds's mental health cafe to offer extended Christmas opening for those in need

A CAFE that offers support to people suffering a mental health crisis, offering an alternative to A&E departments, is opening for extended periods over Christmas to ensure those in need have somewhere to go.

The Well-bean Crisis Cafe at St James Hospital is usually open Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings, but is now open all the way to Boxing Day, including Christmas Day, plus New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

The cafe, which was set up in 2016 by Leeds mental health and wellbeing charity Touchstone, in partnership with the Leeds Survivor-Led Crisis Service, aims to provide a quick response to those struggling with mental health and in crisis.

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Crisis support worker at the cafe, Matthew Hall, said Christmas can be a “polarising” time for some - especially those who rely on services that shut down over the festive period.

Christmas can be tough for some people

He said: “Not everyone loves Christmas and the festive period – for many it is a difficult time with so much that could influence a person’s mental health. The pressure to live up the expectations portrayed on TV and social media, a huge change in routine, over indulging in food and drink. It may be the most wonderful time of the year for some people but it also might be helpful to consider ways to cope with what can be a potentially very stressful time of year.”

The cafe’s manager Kimberley Saggu said there were a number of “tips” to follow if you’re struggling, including taking a walk outside, “fighting the urge to retreat” and socialising with friends, and talking to someone, be it a loved one, or professional.