Comedy for Coping

This 6-week course to understanding your mental health recovery equips participants with personal skills which can be applied in their professional lives, meaning the skills learnt will last long after the course has finished.

The workshops are one hour per week plus homework. It is being delivered over video link meaning that it is flexible, easy to adapt and is fully funded for 14 to 25 year olds living or working in Derbyshire during January and February 2021.

The aim of the course is not to make the next famous stand-up comedian but is to teach stand-up as a hobby which will last long after treatment by introducing humour as a positive and lasting coping mechanism.

Designed by Dave Chawner, Patron of First Steps ED, number 1 best seller, award winning comedian, presenter, and mental health campaigner.

I developed anorexia when I was 16/17 years old and for a long time I didn’t realise I had a mental illness, and when I did realise, I couldn’t really explain it to anyone because I was never given the communication tools in order to explain emotions.

When I was ready to seek help, I was scared too because everyone talked about recovery as a means of taking my anorexia away and this had become a disease coping mechanism over many years, and in the same way people use drink and drugs, I used restriction.

So, recovery seemed to me that I got everything to lose and nothing to gain, that is where this course comes in, to give participants something back in their mental health recovery.

In his book he used comedy to break down dull public health messaging and make it more dynamic. Adopting the integrative theory of The Transtheoretical Model to provide a road map to recovery. Humour was key to make this seemingly academic pursuit more ‘user friendly’ and a lot less formal.

Using these skills Dave Chawner has created this 6-week comedy course teaching stand-up comedy as a hobby to help them recover from mental ill health.

Workshop Breakdown

Week 1: An introduction to comedy, showing the overlap between comedy and therapy i.e. communication, confidence, and connection. By providing a nurturing and welcoming atmosphere student are encouraged to support each other, thus building peer support, and calming any nerves about the course.

Week 2: The focus of this week is communication. Using different games, to build up their ability to speak in public, giving them tips on how to improve and industry secrets to get audiences to listen to you. In the process this enables students to encourage each other and further developing their bond of trust together.

Week 3: The focus of this week is identity. Introducing basic theories by psychologist Carl Jung, students are provided opportunities to play about with their onstage person. This introduces humour as a positive outlet for negative emotions with students shown how to effectively channel anger, rage, and fear into writing to build emotional intelligence.

Week 4: The focus of this week is writing. Combating rigid thinking students will use interactive games to develop analytical skills. Then linking this back to their own mental health journey, this workshop will equip them with new ways of constructively using humour to make sense of seemingly chaotic emotions.

Week 5: The focus of this week is to develop a/ their stand-up routine. Students are tasked to think about challenges that they have overcome to develop an inspiring and funny routine.

Week 6: The focus of this week is rehearsing the set. To cement the peer support element, students are given the opportunity to perform their sets to each other. By giving constructive feedback this will build their confidence and draw together everything and reinforce all the lessons they have learnt throughout the course, making them feel optimistic, hopeful, and positive towards their ongoing recovery.

Workshop themes and objectives

Personal Development

Professional Development

Workshop Methods

Peer Support

Presentation Skills Games


Public Speaking


Confidence Building






Avoiding Isolation


Group Projects

Emotional Resilience


Coping Mechanisms



In summary, all of this culminates into an ongoing project for participants that does not finish when the 6-week course ends.

This is a unique approach to mental health peer support that uses confidence; communication tools; emotional intelligence; expression; reframing; personal development which can be applied in professional lives; increased user engagement including parents/families/friends; hard to reach groups; and potentially can change our perceptions about services.

Course description

If you would like to register to attend this creative approach to mental health support please complete our Workshop Registration Form and our team will get in touch with course details in the New Year.

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