Since the beginning of the year, doctors in Bristol, England, have been able to prescribe a comedy course for their trauma patients. This program is being piloted throughout January by the UK's public health system, with the help of professional comedians.
Is laughter really the best medicine? To find out, the NHS, the United Kingdom's public health system, is running a trial that started January 1, 2022, in the city of Bristol, in the southwest of England. Entitled "Comedy on Referral," this program allows doctors to prescribe a comedy course to patients suffering from trauma. The aim is to help these people see the "funny side" of their experience, reports the BBC . The experiment runs until January 31.
People suffering from conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety or grief are eligible for this trial. The program includes six weeks of writing workshops to pen light-hearted texts about patients' experiences. During these sessions, which are entirely free of charge, participants are invited to act out the scenes.
"Comedy is a force for good,"explains comedian Angie Belcher in a BBC report, and, she continues, we may not always realize how much it "can change people's lives." Moreover, the comedian and screenwriter explains that comedy comes from "trauma, not the happy bits." The professional, who has a master's degree in psychology, helped develop the program along with health advisors. She describes people who take the course as seeming "six inches taller" after completing it.
Even outside this kind of therapy, "laughter is perhaps the best natural stress buster," underlines the doctor Jimmy Mohamed speaking on France's Europe 1 radio station. "It will allow us to release hormones, namely endorphins, which will have an anxiolytic and antidepressant action. It also activates the reward circuit, with dopamine," says the specialist. With age, the daily duration of laughter decreases, going from 300 bursts of laughter in children to 20 in adults.