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Laughing Like Crazy looks to help people cope with mental illness

Program teaches those who deal with mental health issues to perform a stand-up comedy routine based on their own experiences
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Learning to laugh about one’s mental illness can be a life-changing experience, says Ross Knechtel.

The president of the Mood Disorders Support Group of Guelph says a program called Laughing Like Crazy that teaches those dealing with mental illness how to do a stand-up comedy routine has had wonderful results.

“It’s a really powerful program and it’s life-changing for many people,” said Knechtel. “It’s very therapeutic.”

The comedy developed is based on people’s experience with mental health issues and the mental health system, says Knechtel.

The program raise awareness, reduce stigma, and are an opportunity to create a meaningful dialogue about the impacts of mental health issues on individuals and communities, he said.

“They learn to write their own jokes and to basically make fun of the mental health system and make humour about day-to-day situations,”

Laughing Like Crazy is a peer-supported 16-week program that starts in February.

“The program aims to empower participants and audiences alike, breakdown isolation and anxiety, build self-esteem and challenge stigma,” Knechtel says.

“It looks at difficult issues through the lens of humour and provides an empowering perspective on mental health issues.”

He says it builds confidence and improves communication.

“Our problems are transformed into humour. We're laughing, so you can too.”

Laughing Like Crazy culminates with a show in front of a live audience where the participants perform the act they have learned.

The program was held in Guelph in 2016 and Knechtel said it was a huge success.

An information session and interviews will be held on Saturday Feb. 23 at 1:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church. All sessions will be on Saturday afternoons at First Baptist Church from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The program is free, although a refundable deposit is asked for to reserve space.

For more information or to register, contact Knechtel at 226-706-4058 or via email at info@mdsgg.ca.



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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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