The Depressed Cupcake Shop bakes to make depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and other mental illnesses less taboo (in totally tasty way!)
To raise awareness for mental health issues, British pop-up shop The Depressed Cake Shop is selling baked goods that send a message: talking about depression and anxiety doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Emma Thomas, also known as Miss Cakehead, founded the depressed-goodies-only bakery back in August 2013. Her goal? To raise money for mental health charities and acknowledge the false stigmas associated with mental health illnesses. And the initiative isn't just in the U.K.—pop-ups have made their way stateside to cities like San Francisco, CA; Houston, TX; and Orange County, CA (there's on happening this Saturday, August 15!).
Changing the conversation about mental illness is important—conditions such as bipolar disorder or anxiety continue to go undiagnosed, in part because of the shame society has negatively attached to them. Thomas' goal with this project is to open that line of communication and remove that natural inclination toward shame (and denial) after a diagnosis. Her cupcakes have become the perfect metaphor. (Here's Your Brain On: Depression.)
"When someone says 'cupcake,' you think pink icing and sprinkles," Thomas says on the company's site. "When someone says 'mental health,' an equally unimaginative stereotype will pop into most minds. By having grey cakes, we're challenging the expected, and getting people to challenge the labels they put on those who suffer with a mental illness."
Thomas invites anyone to join in with their own baked goods at any of the pop-up shop locations. Not only does this create a community where people with mental health conditions can feel welcome and comfortable enough to talk about their struggles, but the act of baking itself has also been shown to reduce stress and promote mindfulness. That's a win-win. (Talk it out! Here, 6 Types of Therapy that Go Beyond a Couch Session.) The only stipulation: All cakes and cookies must be grey. According to the founder, the symbolism behind grey (opposed to blue or black, two colors commonly associated with feeling depressed) is that, depression, in particular, paints any life—good or bad—in lackluster grey. Thomas also encourages volunteer bakers to include a rainbow-colored cake center that offers hope underneath that grey cloud of depression.
To find out how you can become involved in the cause, join the campaign's Facebook page.