Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Stand Up To Stigma - Time To Change

Now it's no secret Ralph's always up for a laugh and that he has a soft spot for raising mental health awareness after the Ralph's Life CD, so it's no surprise that when he heard there was a project in St Helens using comedy to help end mental health discrimination he quickly checked it out. 

The Stand Up To Stigma project in St Helens is funded by Time To Change and they have established a Comedy Course in conjunction with The Comedy Trust alongside a number of events in the offing that are aimed at ending mental health discrimination through public interaction and the medium of laughter. 

What's the connection between Ralph and mental health? Well depression is called Black Dog and there's a big black dog in a very funny video by Time To Change called Wolfpack. That and the Ralph's Life CD to raise funds and awareness for Rethink Mental Illness of course!

Time to Change is England’s mental health anti-stigma programme run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and funded by The Department of Health, Comic Relief and Big Lottery Fund.  The programme is distributing grants to local community-led projects as part of its drive to improve public attitudes and behaviour in relation to mental health.

Stand Up To Stigma, which is led by people with mental health problems, will use the grant to establish meaningful and open conversations with others in the local area. The aim is to bring people who don’t have mental health problems into social contact with those who do. 

Evidence suggests that this kind of contact is one of the most effective ways of breaking down stigma and discrimination.

Displaying Stand Up To Stigma Email Flyer 250614.jpgThe project will run a series of short stand up comedy courses that use a variety of creative techniques to help develop the skills and confidence of people living with mental health problems. 

Each course will culminate in four comedy events taking place in local libraries across St Helens, where course participants will engage audience members through their stand up routines and one to one conversations which will enable them to talk about their mental health issues. The Stand Up To Stigma project will be delivered in partnership with Addaction, St Helens Mind and St Helens Council.

Stand Up To Stigma comedy events are the finale to the six week comedy course involving people with lived experience of mental health issues. The events will showcase the routines written and performed by the budding comedians and will be introduced by Liverpool stand-up, Sam Avery. There will also be a chance to chat to the participants about their own experiences after they have performed. So please do come along, have a laugh and help to ‘stand up to stigma’. Comedy events are free. 

As said, Ralph's always up for a laugh, so I've joined up too! The relevant expression is - 'bricking it'.


Having just 'broken my bones' on evening two of the six week course by doing three minutes of 'comedy' material that I'd written, I can only say that I have the utmost respect for anyone that gets up on stage and performs stand up. As Sam Avery was quoted as saying - 'it's easier to become a Jedi'. 


The six week course is long gone and I've since performed a couple of times in St Helens. The second of which was in front of over 50 people in Central Library where the project finale will be taking place on January 16th.  There's 120 tickets available for that one from this link (word on the street is there's only 20 left) and they're free!

If you want any more info call a mental health helpline & choose the relevant option - For OCD, press 1 - repeatedly...if you're co-dependent...get someone else to press 2.

I'm here all week...however here's a video of the wife killing it at the big Stand Up To Stigma Finale in St Helens Library on January 16th...

Here's just a few pictures of the Stand Up To Stigma Comedy Event in Newton Le Willows was a tremendous success with both the performers and the crowd enjoying a great afternoons entertainment and afterwards, discussions about mental health issues.




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