Young Scot begins coffee company to help those struggling with mental health

A young Scotsman who battled his mental health issues has started a social company aimed at helping other patients.

Michael Ellis’ Wellbeans Coffee is coffee with a purpose – promoting and supporting mental health and well-being.

With Christmas and New Year’s Eve approaching, Michael, 25, of Troon reminds us, “Mental health never takes a break for the holidays. It’s the most important time to check on someone.”

Michael, who now lives in Edinburgh, graduated in business and marketing at Heriot Watt University in 2020 and is currently in sales for Red Bull, but he also runs his company Wellbeans, selling coffee and pumping some of the profits into mental health charities initiatives.

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Every bag of coffee the company sells, a share of the profits are donated to the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), and has been used to invest in projects like The Changing Room Campaign that promotes men’s mental health and wellness through the power of football.

Michael knows firsthand how things can go wrong.

At only seventeen years old, one of his best friends committed suicide.

He said, “This has definitely had an impact on how open I am about my mental health. Losing someone at this age makes you realize it could happen again.”

His friend was “the brightest light in the room” and Michael said, “It just shows you that it can affect anyone.”

When he was at university four years ago, he began to develop his own fears.

Michael encouraged friends to join him on his tours to help improve their mental health

He said, “Maybe it was because of mono stress or doing something every day that I didn’t enjoy a combination of those things and couldn’t stop.

“I was in my third year in civil engineering and started having panic attacks every day and finding it hard to sleep at night; I couldn’t calm down.

“It went on for a fairly long time without me realizing what was going on, without me knowing it was anxiety.”
He would find himself in tears and not knowing why and it took him a long struggle before he took his mother’s advice and went to the doctor.

Michael said: “The doctor made it somewhat normal and said it was a generalized anxiety disorder.

“At that point, I paused and graduated from university for a year before going back and changing my course of study.

“I tried to focus on eating well and staying fit as well to refocus myself.”

He went back to live with his parents Eileen and David and started running more as well as walking the family dog, Oscar, to get some fresh air and clear his head.

When the second lockdown took place, he set himself the challenge of being fit and active while focusing on the community.

He explained, “I ran every day for 30 days in November last year and got at least one person to take part in every run I took — either running away from the community or plugging in earphones and chatting while running,

“The most important thing is to get out, move around and stay in touch with friends and family during the lockdown.”

The running sessions were a huge success and inspired Michael to move things forward.

He said, “In the new year I became redundant so I had time on my hands to come up with the concept. I had the idea for a while but it paid off during that time.”

“I wanted it to be proactive and benefit as many people as possible at a time when people need some form of support.”

While the business began selling coffee directly to consumers, a coffee shop has now opened at the former Michael University and when students buy a cup of coffee, they also help fund mentorship projects for students who need them.

“I went through the counseling system and was fortunate to see me fairly quickly, but the staff are exhausted, and they are almost reaching their capacity,” Michael said.

He also runs Wellbeans Wednesdays on Instagram where it gives a platform to anyone who wants to share their story about mental health.

“It’s all about building a community. We have professional coaches, a suicide survivor and a student talking about how she spent a week in the psych ward.

“But there is always hope no matter how low you get.

“I’ve experienced it as it feels like the world is crumbling on me, and even if you’re not comfortable talking about your tolerance, hearing other people’s stories can help.”


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