Mental health-focused coffee shop reopens to help Chicagoans in need during COVID-19 crisis

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago coffee shop that gives 100% of its proceeds to support suicide prevention and mental health education had to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Sip of Hope reopened Sunday on their two-year anniversary, and just in time for Mental Health Awareness Month.

The Logan Square coffee shop is back open only for a few hours a day, two days a week. It's offering takeout only, but the shop's founder said it's about more than just the business.

"Accessibility is a big issue so if we can start the conversation around mental health with a cup of coffee at a peer level too, we can talk to one another and see what next step can be," said Sip of Hope Founder Jonny Boucher.

It's no secret the pandemic, and ensuing stay-at-home order, has exacerbated mental health issues and the need for additional resources.

"We know it's difficult. Weather's nice, cabin fever, anxiety and depression," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike noted on Saturday.

It's because of this that Sip of Hope's customers are happy to see them reopen, if only in this limited fashion.

"I want to do everything I can to support them because I know they're supporting so many people that also need help," said customer Kimmy Compton.

Sip of Hope is in need of help. Their 10 employees, while not clinicians, are all trained in mental health aid. But the future remains uncertain.

"We've applied to so many relief funds and resiliency grants," Boucher said. "We can't be another Chicago mental health resource that closes its doors."

Anyone needing a little extra help during these times can connect to the state's free emotional support text line. Just text the word "TALK" to 5-5-2-0-2-0 to be connected to a counselor.

Sip of Hope is a partnership between Hope for the Day and Dark Matter Coffee. For anyone wanting to know more about what Sip of Hope does or connect to their mental health resources, visit their website.
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