It’s been said, time after time, that laughter is the best medicine. Indeed, one would be hard pressed to find a skillful comedic wordsmith without his or her share of personal insecurities and biographical traumas. (See: Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, et al).
But now, one Canadian therapist is taking this concept to a whole new level. In Vancouver, David Granirer, a stand-up himself, has founded the Stand Up for Mental Health project; a year-long intensive course that trains patients suffering from depression and other emotional problems to craft their pain into hilarious comedic routines. Program participants complete their therapy by performing their acts for audiences at psych wards, college campuses, and mental health conferences.
“We use comedy to give consumers a powerful voice and help reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental illness” Granirer says on the group’s website. “The idea is that laughing at our setbacks raises us above them. It makes people go from despair to hope, and hope is crucial to anyone struggling with adversity. Studies prove that hopeful people are more resilient and also tend to live longer, healthier lives.”