Toronto’s Mental Wellness Loft

Stand up comedian Shelley Marshall opens her doors to those living with mental illness

Shelley Marshall is one of many who are using their experience with mental health to inspire and help others. In this case, Shelley has chosen to open her home twice a week to the public to create a safe space for anyone facing mental illness to express themselves and spend time with others.

Called the Mental Wellness Loft, Shelley’s home is a beautiful open space equipped with couches, tables, and open floor space for things like yoga or dancing. If you’re not immediately welcomed by the bright colours that light up her loft, you’ll be drawn in by the table of baked goods that’s perched right next to the front door. It’s turned into a kind of tradition for some of Shelley’s regular company to bake cookies and other desserts for her drop in hours.

There’s a small stage at the back of the loft that hosts musicians and other performers. Shelley herself is a stand up comedian, so it only makes sense to provide a free space for performers to play and take advantage of the loft’s desirable acoustics.

Shelley’s inspiration behind opening a Mental Wellness Loft came from a combination of her personal experiences with mental illness, as well as a good friend of hers who lost his life to suicide under a year ago.

“The last note he sent me was that he just wanted to come here and sit with me,” said Shelley. “I never got to respond, so I just want people to come here and sit with me.”

At the Mental Wellness Loft, anyone is welcome to drop by and hangout. There is even a bed available upstairs for anyone feeling overwhelmed and in need of winding down.

Shelley radiates nothing but appreciation for the people who attend her Mental Wellness Loft and make the space what it is. After discussing with us her personal experiences with Post traumatic stress disorder, she pointed out that hanging out with everyone at her loft is a positive experience for her.

“There’s no symptom today, there’s just joy,” said Shelley.