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Stand Up for Mental HealthStand Up for Mental Health

Looking to spice up your AGM or next meeting? Consider asking the Toronto “Stand up for Mental Health” Troupe to perform. This is a group of 15 dynamic individuals who use stand up comedy to cope with the symptoms and issues of mental illness.

Created in Vancouver, by comic David Granirer, author of The Happy Neurotic: How Fear and Angst Can Lead to Happiness and Success, Stand up for Mental Health assists individuals with mood disorders “empower themselves by taking their stress and trauma and turning it into a comedy routine.”

This project of the Mood Disorders Associations of Ontario is lead by Michael Cole, a support group worker and “humour coach.” Cole offers a 4 month, 3 day a week program to fifteen participants with significant mood disorders. Participants are taught to write, perform, structure and edit a comedy with the use of a Stand up Comedy Clinic workbook and CDs.

Uponcompletion of the program, graduates have the opportunity to try out their material in a Showcase performance for friends, family, invited guests and the general public. The graduates are then offered to join the Stand Up for Mental Health comedy troupe and invited to perform at events across the GTA.

Stand Up for Mental Health is not intended to replace therapy. Its goal is to empower individuals living with depression and anxiety disorders and encourage them to speak openly about their struggles. One participant claimed that Stand Up for Mental Health has helped him emerge in “a very good, healthy, safe way, in a peer group that’s non-competitive and encouraging” (Network Spring Summer 2007).

The program also aspires to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness in a fun and informative way. Cole claims that the program shows “the general public what people with mental difficulties are capable of, and thereby help[s] reduce the ever-present stigma” One participant stated “I wish that the whole general public could see this because there is a myth that someone who has a mental illness looks a certain way. With the diversity in this room alone, and to see us capable of doing this and being genuinely funny, it would be a great way to break down a lot of prejudice.” (Network Spring Summer 2007)

To learn more about Stand Up for Mental Health please visit their website

To book the Stand Up for Mental Health group for your next event please contact Michael Cole at 416.285.7125.

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