Comedians could soon be prescribed by the NHS in an attempt to prove that laughter really is the best medicine.
Angie Belcher, comedian in residence at Bristol University, has been working with medics to develop sessions for people suffering from depression that are designed to make them laugh. Belcher says the courses could help people gain a new perspective on their demons.
‘Comedy is a force for good and people do not realise how much it can change people’s lives,’ she said.
Professional comics Charmian Hughes and Jack Campbell have signed up to help deliver the sessions through Bristol Wellspring Settlement Social Prescribing Team which will be prescribed free by GPs.
Angie has a masters degree in psychology as well as working as a comedian, and claimed that early results when trying out the sessions have been positive, BBC News reports.
She said: ‘When I work with young people, there’s a lot experiencing gender dysmorphia, people who have recently come out, issues with family, class and race. We explore those subjects. At the end, people seem six inches taller.’
One of those people is student Kiah Bailey, who said comedy had helped her deal with her anxiety, depression and difficult life experiences.
She said: ‘It’s that whole ‘If you don’t laugh you’ll cry’ sort of thing. Trauma plus time equals comedy, so I can use my experiences. Now I’ve found the funny side, it makes it easier to deal with.’
Her words were backed up by actor and poet Jane Hills, who attended a course when she “wasn’t in a very good place”.
She said: ‘The course will re-programme your brain to think differently and find humour in the situation you’re in.’
Bristol TV production worker Dani Johns, meanwhile, did some one-on-one coaching sessions with Angie to boost her confidence and was full of praise, too. ‘It made me a bigger, brighter version of myself,’ she said.
‘Laughter is the best medicine. I’ve experienced grief and lost people very close to me and often comedians talk about losing people in their performances.
‘You’re addressing something huge in your life but with a positive outlook on it,’ Johns added.
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