Combating stigma through comedy

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Free comedy show takes on mental illness

By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor


This Friday evening, Stand Up for Mental Health is bringing mental health issues to the spotlight—by laughing about them.

Stand Up for Mental Health (SMH) is an organization that aims to overcome both individual struggles with mental health and the stigma surrounding the subject. The organization’s founder David Granirer, a comedian and counselor who also has depression, partners with mental health organizations to teach people how to develop and perform stand-up comedy based on their own tribulations.

SMH is based in Vancouver and according to its website runs programs all across Canada, the US, and Australia, helping participants gain confidence and performing at conferences, treatment centers, government agencies, college campuses, and more. On October 13, Granirer and the SMH Society are bringing their experiences right to Douglas College’s New Westminster campus with the Stand Up for Mental Health Comedy Show.

Friday’s show takes place at 7 p.m. in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre. The event is free and open to all Douglas students and community members. However, attendees are asked to register online beforehand, since limited space is available in the 350-seat theatre.

Stephanie Haslam, Interim Manager of Student Engagement and the one responsible for bringing this comedy show to Douglas, told the Other Press in an interview that she invited the SMH Society to the school in order to promote mental health awareness in the month of October. Given the stigma around mental illness, many people are often reluctant or afraid to discuss how it affects them. Haslam said that she believes this show’s humorous approach can help to normalize the topic and prompt people to start a deeper conversation around it.

For many individuals out there who are struggling with mental health issues and might not be ready to open up about it, Haslam hopes this show will resonate deeply and provide some measure of reassurance.

“I think it makes you feel like you are not alone,” she said. “Even if you’re not ready to talk about them, you might be able to relate to the stories that people are telling or the experiences that people have gone through.”

However, even for anyone who doesn’t think they’re directly affected by these issues, Haslam still very much welcomes and recommends attending Friday’s show. Prejudice around mental health issues affects all of society, and we all need to realize that struggles with mental illness are very common but that they are nothing to be frightened of. The upcoming comedy show can provide an opening for people to talk to friends and family, and to work together to end the stigma.

Most importantly, Haslam wants to encourage people on Friday to come out ready to engage in some much-needed dialogue about mental health.

“It’s time that we start talking about it,” said Haslam. “It’s time that we make it … a part of our regular conversation.”

To register for the event, go to


The Other Press

The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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