They say laughter is the best medicine… and comedians could soon be prescribed on the NHS in a bid to help patients overcome their demons.
GPs may be given the option of sending people on free courses focused on making them laugh.
Angie Belcher, comedian in residence at Bristol University, has been working with medics to develop the sessions.
She said they would help people gain a new perspective on their difficult experiences.
Angie said: “Comedy is a force for good and people do not realise how much it can change people’s lives.”
Professional comics Charmian Hughes and Jack Campbell will help to deliver the sessions through Bristol Wellspring Settlement Social Prescribing Team.
Angie, who has a masters degree in psychology, said the early results suggest the formula works.
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.”
Student Kiah Bailey 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.”
Actor and poet Jane Hills 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.”