August 3, 2021

Stand-upBY AARON CRECES

The healing power of laughter is truly mental.

The comedy act known as Stand Up for Mental Health is coming to Conestoga to help reduce the stigma and discrimination regarding mental illness.

The organization was created by David Granirer, a stand-up comedian, author of The Happy Neurotic: How Fear and Angst Can Lead to Happiness and Success, and depression sufferer.

Based out of Vancouver, B.C., the organization’s shows feature comedians who are themselves experiencing or recovering from a mental illness.

They take to the stage of college and university campuses, government departments and prisons to make light of the mental health system and illness, and to aid in recovery from issues.

“The idea is that laughing at our setbacks raises us above them,” Granirer says on the organization’s website.

Stand Up for Mental Health does shows all across Canada and the United States, and is now coming to Conestoga thanks to a team of social service worker students consisting of Sua Ortiz-Yang, Jacqueline Fagan, Sam McPhee, Blair O’Neil and Melis Kilicogleu.

“By putting on the event with people who are experiencing mental health issues, that’s empowering in itself,” O’Neil said.

“You get up on stage in front of 250 people, that’s empowering, it’s engaging. It shows people with mental health issues that it can be done.

“These are individuals who are experiencing it and shedding light on it in a positive way.

Mental health isn’t all negative aspects.”

Jacqueline Fagan was quick to concur with her counterpart.

“It’s client-centred, it’s interactive. I think having that personal explanation from people who are dealing with mental health issues is really valuable. It’s also an entertaining way to do it; it’s a comedy show, it’s entertaining to the public,” she said.

“That’s something that the average person wouldn’t have the courage to do, put a stand-up routine together and get up in front of a huge crowd.

They’re being blunt, they’re being real, but they’re putting this message into a comedy format.”

The team of students hopes to raise at least $2,000 by holding the off-kilter comedy night.

Proceeds will be split in half between the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Patrice Butts Fund at Conestoga.

The Patrice Butts Fund is a program that was developed and organized by students in order to help prospective social service worker students who are struggling financially.

O’Neil said he hopes this event will result in more awareness of the myriad of mental health issues and the many people affected by them at Conestoga.

About one in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime.

“To be perfectly honest, there’s not very many things I see around the school that have to do with mental health. I think that Conestoga is seriously lacking in that regard, so I think that this will be a way to kick-start awareness and motivate change within the school.”

The show is set for April 12 in the Blue Room at Conestoga Colleges Doon campus and will be hosted by Allan Strong, a team leader at Self-Help Alliance and a strong supporter of the Stand Up for Mental Health program.

Tickets for this event are $8 if you are a student and $10 for everyone else.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m.

There’s going to be some raffle prizes and 50/50 tickets for sale in addition to the comedy show.

And there will also be food available, plus this show is licensed.

You can enjoy a stand-up comedy show and a cold one.

For more information or to purchase tickets, email conestoga.smh@gmail.com or call Samantha McPhee at 519-496-1839.

Tickets will also be available at the door. For more information on Stand Up for Mental Health you can visit standupformentalhealth.com.

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