Jim Drake’s Entertainment Blog: Mental Health in the Spotlight

How brave.

If I had to sum up the “Mental Health at the Mic” show last week at the arts center, I’m leaning toward “How brave.”

Each performer has, and lives with, a diagnosed mental health challenge ranging from PTSD, bipolar disorder, AAHD, OCD and manic depression.

Last year, I remember seeing some stories and watching some videos of health care workers giving iPods to Alzheimer patients and recording their reaction to the music. There were stunning results: moments of clarity — and patients that hadn’t talked or responded to any other treatment were able to talk about memories that were thought to be long forgotten. Based on what I saw, it sure seems like channeling energy into developing a comedy routine about your life is having the same effect. In fact, if you hadn’t told me that these folks had mental health challenges, I would have guessed that these folks were a comedy troupe that traveled around to help those in need. But what was actually happening is that these folks were writing comedy routines based on their own real experiences, in many cases, decades of experiences. Like having a former elementary school student wind up being your pharmacist. Or dealing with your mom who insists that the mayonnaise jars at the Universal Studio’s restaurant were all “wrong.” Or detailing why you’re up at 2 in the morning, making a sandwich for the star of a late night TV sitcom. Or being admitted to a psych ward and wondering why your margarita hasn’t arrived yet.

National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mid-Columbia Center for Living sponsored the show, and it truly showed how comedy can help someone — and put mental health in the spotlight.

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