Stand up Comedy for Mental Health

We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but laughing can be difficult when you or a loved one has just been diagnosed with a mental disorder. What’s so funny about mental illness? Just ask, counselor and comedian, David Granirer. He started, an organization that trains people with mental disorders around the country to do stand-up comedy. “Cracking Up” is a documentary about those experiences:

Granirer describes the efforts of his organization, saying:

“We use comedy to give mental health consumers a powerful voice and help reduce the stigma and discrimination around mental illness. 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.”

Granirer has observed that stand-up comedy has helped people to overcome long-standing depression and phobias. Some might not believe these claims, but the experience of stand-up comedy isn’t too far removed from what might happen in the therapy room. Some therapists use exposure therapy for social anxiety or phobias.  His observations on how people have made progress in overcoming their mental health disorder might be grounded in research. For example, Improv for Anxiety is a comedy improv group that was developed in coordination with Chicago’s famous improve group The Second City.  The Second City and Panic/Anxiety Recovery Center on the city’s North Side combines improvisation and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to combat social phobia.

While Improv for Anxiety is based in Chicago, the training for Stand up for Comedy comes to you through Skype and is meant to develop improv for mental health communities all across North America.

For more information visit on how to start building a mental health comedy community in your city.