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Reviews

“It was so great to see the work you do teaching comedy to people with mental illness. What you do is truly amazing! I would love to bring your program to San Diego. I think it would be a huge benefit for our clients!”

Angela Carrillo
MA MPA, Community Relations, Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, San Diego, CA

Your presentation at Alternatives was awesome, as you could tell by the prolonged standing ovation and all the people who lined up to talk to you afterwards. People were really moved and inspired by the work you do, and also had some great laughs. You truly are on the cutting edge of mental health programs for recovery and public education.

Joseph Rogers
Executive Director, National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse

We were totally wowed by the show you and your group of comics did at the NAMI National Convention! The standing ovation you received was well-deserved. Having people talk about their recovery journeys through stand-up comedy is such a great way to fight stigma. It’s so refreshing and inspiring to see humor brought to such a serious issue.

Keris Myrick
CEO Project Return Peer Support Network, President, NAMI National 2012

Your Stand Up For Mental Health training and show totally exceeded our expectations! It was amazing to watch the process as our people developed their acts and then after 12 weeks got up on stage, did a hilarious show, and got a standing ovation. The comedy you did as you ran the show was incredibly funny and your closing statement nailed the spirit and intent of the show. What an extremely inspiring event! We look forward to working with you again and again.

Debra Jorgensen
Chief Administrative Officer, Recovery Empowerment Network, Phoenix, Arizona

In my first year as Local Recovery Coordinator at Miami VA Healthcare System, I was privileged to offer, in celebration of our first annual Mental Illness Awareness Week program, the US ‘premiere of Cracking Up, the ground-breaking film that followed for a year 11 individuals who participated in your  Stand Up for Mental Health program in Vancouver. In August of 2010, it was my good fortune to attend your presentation in Chicago to more than 100 Department of Veterans Affairs Peer Support Specialists during their annual conference.  It was my pleasure to see you once again, as you demonstrated the power of humor at the community-wide Mental Health “Transformation in Action” conference in May 2011 in Miami.

Your work teaching stand-up comedy to people with mental health issues is amazing. Not only is it incredibly beneficial for the people you train, but it’s also a great way to combat stigma and raise awareness. Helping people find humor in such serious issues helps us all to realize how important it is to talk about mental health issues.  Your work continues to be an inspiration to Veterans, staff, and to everyone you have touched with your courage, creativity, and integrity in the greater Miami area. 

Diana Pure
Local Recovery Coordinator, Miami VA Healthcare System

Thank you for entertaining us at our 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Fundraising event. This event proved to be a far greater success than we had hoped, in large part due to both your showmanship and your ability to teach your craft to our clients. We have received numerous calls and messages regarding how much fun guests had that evening and in particular, how wonderful were the comedic talents of you, Janet, and Shane.

You made us all laugh, and more importantly, you raised the self-esteem of two of our clients. 

Harry Spindel
Executive Director, Bayview Community Services, Toronto, Ontario

We were amazed at how great your Stand Up For Mental Health presentation was. I heard our former Board chair say that this was “the most effective anti-stigma event she’s ever seen”!! Lots of kudos! The comics you trained performed wonderfully, and were thrilled with their time on stage. We also had a great turnout, obviously there was a lot of interest in your program. 

Deborah Warren
LCSW, DCSW, Director, Child, Family, & Prevention Services Alexandria Community Services Board

We were delighted to have you present to our 2nd year medical students for the fourth year in a row. The class really enjoyed the Stand Up For Mental Health session; it is a highlight of the course. The combination of comedy and education around mental health issues provides a unique learning opportunity. We hope to have you back next year.

Dr. Jane Buxton
DPAS 420 VFMP Course Director, 
Dean's Undergraduate Education
 Faculty of Medicine, 
The University of British Columbia

I just wanted to say thank you again for the great show you and the wonderful insight and energy your comics shared with the Bell team during Mental Health Week. It was just what we needed, a light-hearted way to address a serious topic like mental illness. As you could tell by the response our employees loved the show! We all had a good laugh and learned that it’s okay for people to talk about mental health issues at work.

Darcy Hausselman
Bell Canada, Associate Director | Community Investment & Community Affairs - BC and Alberta

We really enjoyed your presentation and comedy routine at our recent gala event. Your Stand Up for Mental Health program is truly unique and amazing in the way it allows those who are challenged with mental illness to achieve their potential and succeed in a way they never have before. Seeing examples of how consumers developed into stand up comics through your work, was very heart warming and inspirational. Your presentation was both funny and thought provoking – exactly what we had hoped for.

Sandra Seney
Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester Manchester, NH

The performance you and the comics you trained did at our annual conference left everyone beaming. The comics were all hilarious, and it was great to see them take their mental health issues and find the humor in them. Your work is a great way to give a voice to people with mental health issues and to give their audience a completely different perspective on what it means to be a mental health consumer. People in the audience who are in mental health recovery were also totally energized by the demonstration that peers actually can successfully take a big leap outside their comfort zones.

Ann Bohr Benner
LCSW VOCAL Virginia Network Program Director

It was great to see the two Stand Up For Mental Health shows you did in Toronto and St. Catharines.

The comics you trained were funny and very insightful about their mental health issues. The fact that they got a standing ovation indicates that the show was a huge hit! What they had to say really resonated with the audience, many of whom face their own mental health issues.

Your project really gives people with mental illness a chance to prove what they’re capable of. I know that the two clients from our organization who participated in the shows were thrilled with the results!

We look forward to being part of more Stand Up For Mental Health shows in the future. 

George Kurzawa
Executive Director, Canadian Mental Health Association, Niagara Branch

Your keynote at our conference had us all in stitches. It also provided some much-needed inspiration to see examples of the comics you’ve trained. Your work teaching comedy to consumers is truly groundbreaking. Everyone felt so empowered after your presentation as you could tell by the standing ovation.

Colleen Jasper
Office of Consumer Relations, Michigan Department of Community Health

Thanks for the great job you did training our people to be stand-up comics. The show itself was amazing, the comic’s acts were fabulous and so was the standing ovation they received at the end of the show. We already have people who say they want to do the class next year! 

Jacqueline Holmes, Jennifer Dingwall
Crossroads Clubhouse, Sydney, Nova Scotia

Your Stand Up For Mental Health was a huge hit at our conference!  The prolonged standing ovation said it all. You were all hilarious, and the fact that you were able to train the comics in only 6-weeks via Skype is amazing. Afterwards people were raving about your show. What a great way to begin our conference on a high while also addressing some serious issues around mental health!

Danette Castle
Executive Director, Texas Council of Community Centers

For the second year in a row the show you did for us was a great success. The comics you trained all did a great job, and you were hilarious too. Thanks for helping us to fight stigma in our community with laughter and fun.

Jill Dennison
Regional Lead - Western Region, Schizophrenia Society of Ontario

The show you did at our conference was awesome. You were hilarious and so were the comics you’d trained for us. It’s amazing to see people discuss serious mental health issues in such a lighthearted way and yet still get an important message across.

Robyn Priest
Alaska Peer Support Consortium

The presentation you did on your own and the Stand Up For Mental Health show you and your comics did at our conference was fabulous! This was just what we needed to make our conference fun and meaningful. Our people were very inspired by the way you work with people with mental illness and help them bring out their strengths through humor. 

The evaluation forms that we received were absolutely unanimous in only one thing, and that is that they thought your presentation and the live show was fabulous.  It turns out to have been the highlight of the conference for most people.

 Your comics had us laughing our heads off while also addressing some very serious issues. They brought some hope and encouragement to all of us in our work. Our work is very serious, and you brought us a great reminder of the lighter side of some very tough situations.

Barbara Van Vugt
Corrections Services Canada

The show you put on at our conference was truly amazing. The comics you trained to perform with you were all fabulous, and the standing ovation you received was proof of how much people enjoyed the show. We were also inspired by the way you helped our people find the humor in such a serious topic as mental illness.  

Carl Clark
CEO, Mental Health Center of Denver

The two presentations you did for the Rays of Hope were fabulous! You were funny, inspiring, and informative. The audience loved the way you took such a serious topic and found humor in it. The work you do with consumers is amazing and everyone I’ve spoken with about the presentation has wonderful things to say!

Barb Cole
Dickinson Center, Bradford, PA

The fact that you got a standing ovation you after your presentation tells you how much the audience appreciated what you had to say. Your comedy was hilarious and insightful, and really educated people about the importance of understanding mental illness. The way you are able to add laughter to this subject really inspires people and provides hope. In booking you for this event we decided to do something different, and you made it a huge success. I must say that you are most gracious to work with. Thank you for all you all your help and for answering my questions while we were planning our event. We hope to see you back in Saskatoon in the not too distant future.     

Charlene Pawluk
Board Member, Saskatoon Schizophrenia Society

David, your presentation at our 4th Annual Consumer Conference was great.

You had us laughing and learning.  The videos provided us with hope and inspiration for recovery.  Laughter really is the best medicine!  Thank you again for providing an inspiring and funny keynote.

Sally Olson
Customer Services Specialist, Pathways Community Mental Health, Marquette, MI

The show you did for us was a success beyond anything that I could have imagined.  The credit goes to the project team members who brought their awesome talents and work ethics to the table to achieve the successful conclusion.

One of the strategic goals for our CMHA Colchester East Hants Branch addresses “Community education improves awareness of mental health issues and reduces discrimination and stigmatization of individuals”.  As soon as I saw your show back in May, I realized that Stand Up for Mental Health would be a perfect fit for this goal.  

Geoff Alcock
Board Member, Canadian Mental Health Association, Colchester East Hants Branch

Now that you’ve presented at two of our conferences the verdict is in – your presentations were outstanding and totally exceeded our expectations! It was great to see the audiences laugh and be inspired by the work you do. We also really appreciated how you trained our consumers to do stand up comedy all about their mental health journeys and how hilarious they were! 

Pam Christie
Executive Director, Mental Health Council of Arkansas

I am still laughing!  Thank you for the great show. And the comics were so comfortable; they looked like they have been doing this for years. The fact that it only took you six weeks of Skype classes to train them is nothing short of amazing! The way you ran the show was fabulous and the standing ovation the crowd gave all of you is proof of how inspired they were by the show. You really showed Austin the amazing things that people with mental health issues are capable of!

Celia Hughes
Executive Director, VSA Texas

I have been getting numerous e-mails and people coming by to say how great the SMH comedy show was. People thought it was amazing how the comics were able to laugh and bring light to such a heavy topic. They thought they were all extremely courageous, and thoroughly enjoyed the show. So on behalf of the Employee Assistance Program office at the Canadian Forces Base in Esquimalt and all that attended the event, I’d like to thank you for sending your team and putting on such an entertaining show. Please congratulate the team for us as well!

Pam Patterson
Employee Assistance Program, Department of National Defense

You were inspiring and funny as hell!

Dean Johnson
Vice President Community Relations, Seven Counties Services, Louisville, Kentucky

Thank you so much for a wonderful performance. You were funny, inspiring, and really helped us put a different spin on mental health issues.

Lynn Chapman
M.S. CRC, Director of Rehabilitation Services, Hutchings Psychiatric Center, Syracuse, NY

Thanks for an amazing keynote presentation. In 9 years of having our conference you are only the second speaker to get a standing ovation! You were funny, inspiring, and totally relevant to the work we do in behavioural health. The way you use comedy to empower people with mental health issues and to reduce stigma is amazing.

Jeannie Larsen
Conference Committee Member, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council

Your performance was truly amazing and our audience loved it as you could see by the standing ovation. This was also reinforced by the overwhelming response attendees gave the session in our conference evaluations. You received an average of 4.89 (out of five) and in the comments section the word “inspiring” was used repeatedly, one response said yours was “the best and most unique presentation I have ever seen at a conference” and another said “the perfect way to end a long Saturday, what a pleasure!”

Matthew Shapiro
Event Coordinator, NAMI New York State

A big thank you to staff and most especially the stand-up comedians who graced Ozanam House during social inclusion week. The feedback from our residents who attended was overwhelmingly positive. Please pass-on my sincere gratitude and appreciation for adding a special touch to Social Inclusion Week!

Maria Keon
Community Development Worker, Ozanam House, Melbourne, Australia

You are an amazing man and having you start our Symposium with a lot of laughter was a stroke of genius. Have heard nothing but glowing comments from attendees. They loved the whole event and loved starting the day off with you. Count on our inviting you back.

Ben Harrington
Executive Director, Mental Health Association of East Tennessee

The Stand Up For Mental Health training and show you did with Kansas Peers was amazing. The comics were all hilarious, and the audience really loved their humorous take on mental health and recovery. We love how you use comedy to let people see that recovery is possible.

Sherri Luthe
Optum Health, Wichita, Kansas

On behalf of the Peer Center I want to say thanks for the awesome training and show you put on with us. It’s not often you get a standing ovation in mental health! We had tons of great feedback and people are already asking when the next training will be.

Pamela Rose
Director, Peer Run Center For Hope, Boise, Idaho

Stand up for Mental Health puts the audience to work with humor on serious stigma issues of the day. I invited SMH to perform in two pre-service teacher education courses with fifth year students. Students laughed, paused to reflect and felt this opened the door for very important conversations that often go unsaid. I highly recommend SMH as another way of educating people about mental health and humanizing those facing mental health issues. Bravo, SMH.

Dr. Leslie G. Roman
Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia

The WISE Stand Up for Mental Health show at Shell Refinery for Movember was a fantastic success. We had over 100 people attend and to see them laughing and enthralled in the show was brilliant. Reducing the stigma associated around mental health is such an important issue. I think this was driven home to all when nearly the whole room raised their hands to say they know someone with a mental illness. It is an issue that reaches far and wide in our society and we should all be doing something about it. The comics put a human face to those living with mental illness in a funny, intelligent and articulate manner which touched many in the room. The discussions I heard post the event suggest that the topic certainly hit a nerve with many of our employees. I have had nothing but glowing reports about the show and I think it will be the talk of the refinery for some time to come. Thank you to all of you for making the show such a great success. 

Rebecca Heywood
Health, Safety, Security and Environment Advisor, UGL, Shell, Australia

We loved the show your comics put on for us. They were funny and inspiring, and really showed us the amazing things that people with mental health issues are capable of. It’s great the way they are able to educate while also bringing humour to some very serious issues.

Charlene Edwards
Executive Officer, Melbourne Social Equity Institute, The University of Melbourne

A big thank you to staff and most especially the stand-up comedians who graced Ozanam House during social inclusion week. The feedback from our residents who attended was overwhelmingly positive. Please pass-on my sincere gratitude and appreciation for adding a special touch to Social Inclusion Week!

Maria Keon
Community Development Worker, Ozanam House, Melbourne, Australia

On behalf of East Valley, we just wanted to thank you and your comedians for their excellent performance this morning; it was fantastic!  I will be sure to spread the word and wish you all continued success.

Maria Cholley
Partners in Recovery, Mesa, Arizona

I would love to say thank you for teaching the comics from Idaho about a new and exciting way to explore our recovery journey.  The best part was for you to come to Idaho and put on the show with us because it gave us the extra confidence to perform. This experience was incredibly educational for not only the comics but also the audience, as you could tell by the prolonged standing ovation. The incredible thing is that what you do not only is life changing for the comics but for all who were involved.  For example here is a comment from an audience member “Inspirational in every way, such courage and honesty, what the world needs Thanks.” We look forward to working with you again.

Amanda Lehto
Optum Health Idaho

Your presentation at our conference was amazing! You and your comics were outstanding and definitely deserved the standing ovation.  Afterwards, I heard so many good comments.  It was great to hear a number of conversations that were sparked by your presentation regarding mental health illnesses and that people were talking about it in such a positive and accepting way. You were all hilarious and also taught us so much about mental health issues in the workplace. 

Lori Laufthaug
Public Education Benefits Trust, Burnaby, B.C.

Your work with our group of comics was phenomenal. The way you were able to train them via Skype was amazing. The comics loved coming to class and the acts you helped them develop were hilarious! And the show you did with them at the end was great. We had wonderful feedback from so many people who attended. The fact that the comics could take such serious issues and have us laughing with them was a great way to bust stigma. We’re looking forward to more!

Kathleen Pantoja
Wellness & Peer Support Manager, Tacoma Area Coalition of Individuals with Disabilities

We had wonderful feedback regarding the Stand Up For Mental Health shows you did for us. People were saying it was the best conference we’ve ever had. The standing ovation you received was well-deserved and all of the comics were hilarious. One of them said that taking your class was one of the best things he’s ever done it terms of building his confidence and self-esteem. It’s also amazing how you were able to conduct the training via Skype and turn out such a great group!

Marsha Wilson
Vice President, Adult Mental Health Services, Seven Counties Services, Inc., Louisville, Kentucky

Your presentation was great! I had many positive comments from the audience! You had us laughing while also giving us hope and spreading the message that recovery is possible. The way you use comedy to find humour in some really serious issues is remarkable.

Karen Thekan
Executive Director, Northpointe Behavioral Health Services, Iron Mountain, Michigan

“Your presentation had us spellbound! We were amazed and inspired by your work teaching comedy to people with mental illness and how powerful it is. You were also pretty hilarious yourself. It’s great to have a presentation that covers such serious subject matter and has the audience laughing their heads off.”

Maggie Dixon
Communications & Marketing Manager, South Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre