Frayme Supported Project 

Recovery Cafe: A Feasibility Study


In 2022, Frayme commissioned Habitus Collective to conduct a feasibility study on whether the internationally growing 'Recovery Cafe' model could work in a Canadian context and if so, what could and should it look like. The Cafe model acts as an alternative and preventative option to help children and young people who are experiencing or nearing a mental health crisis. It is open when other supports are closed, in a youth-friendly community-based environment, with no appointment or referral necessary. The Cafe works in collaboration with clinical partners and has strong community to clinical pathways developed. Crucially, it also widely incorporates peer support into the model, meeting the needs of those who attend wanting to connect with someone who understands.


Recovery or Crisis Cafes provide a safe place for people in crisis to seek immediate support and treatment, and prevent avoidable Emergency Department visits (Touchstone, 2019). A core premise of the model is to provide a service where people can seek immediate support and advice at times of vulnerability. A place where they can access mental health assessments and receive targeted support from clinicians as well as other service providers(NHS, 2014). The model attempts to move away from the traditional pathologizing of mental health crises, by centering the person in the development of their care plan, and advocates for people to co-develop their treatment alongside professionals.


Recovery Cafes have shown positive outcomes, both for service users and local health systems. Many Cafes are able to see on average 20–25 people per evening. This amounts toon average 6,800–9,100 attendees per year
Feedback demonstrates how much people value the service. Their responses highlight that the Cafes are an established part of the local mental health pathway. Where hospital numbers were available, usage of the Emergency Department post attendance at a Recovery Cafe showed a marked reduction. Evaluations of services in the UK have shown that just a 5% diversion from a psychiatric bed or the prevention of 15 hospital admissions per year results in significant cost savings. Additionally, there have been noted reductions in the number of mental health-related police deployments and a decline in the number of involuntary hospital admissions.

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