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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Stand Up for Mental Health

Start Date

Brief Description
Stand Up for Mental Health was initiated in 2004 by Vancouver-based counselor, standup comic, and author David Granirer. Stand Up for Mental Health is a program that teaches people with mental illnesses how to do standup comedy as a way of building confidence and fighting public stigma of mental illness. Their standup acts focus on their life journeys as individuals living with a mental illness.

The general public is inundated with stories of tragedy and disaster. So often the media uses negative stereotypes to portray people with mental illnesses, resulting in stigmatized views about mental illnesses and mental health consumers. Comedy can be a way to bring people together in a nonjudgmental environment.

By educating people through comedy, Stand Up for Mental Health presents mental health information in a format that is accessible and comfortable for the audience and the comic. Mr. Granirer got the idea for Stand Up for Mental Health while teaching standup comedy in a Langara College Stand-Up Comedy Clinic in Vancouver. His experience with several students demonstrated that sharing one's life in a standup format can help individuals with mental illnesses to increase their confidence and self-esteem and to heal from hurtful situations that they may have encountered as mental health consumers.

As stated by Mr. Granirer, "[We] use comedy to give consumers a voice and help reduce the stigma around mental illness. The idea is that laughing at our setbacks raises us above them. It makes people go from despair to hope, and hope is crucial to anyone struggling with adversity. Studies prove that hopeful people are more resilient and also tend to live longer, healthier lives."

Stand Up for Mental Health classes are offered in various cities in Canada. Mr. Granirer also trains comics in different cities across the country, in conjunction with organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association, and then has them perform at public events and fundraisers. Stand Up for Mental Health comics regularly participate in shows for various organizations and events.

Since 2004, Stand Up for Mental Health comedians have performed at approximately 200 shows across Canada, reaching thousands of people. The program has received a great amount of positive media coverage in newspapers and magazines, on radio, and on TV. This coverage provides the public with a news story about mental illnesses that's unique and inspiring. CBC, Canada's national broadcaster, also has filmed a documentary on the Stand Up for Mental Health program.

Students of Stand Up for Mental Health have reported that their experience in the program has been life changing and life saving. Audiences say that attending Stand Up for Mental Health shows and presentations has made a huge impact on the way they view mental illnesses. One attendee said that 2 years from now, she would not remember what some 'expert' on mental health had said, but she would never forget the Stand Up for Mental Health presentation that had been given for her organization.

To obtain additional information on the Stand Up for Mental Health program, contact David Granirer at 604-205-9242 or, or visit the program Web site at


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.