JOKING about mental illness may not seem the most obvious way of breaking down taboos and tackling discrimination.
But that is exactly what a group of comedians are hoping to achieve as Scotland battles to reduce the stigma around a problem which affects a quarter of the population. Yesterday saw the launch of Scotland's first Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.
As well as films, debates and exhibitions, comedians are using humour to address what is still a very sensitive issue despite being such a massive problem. It is hoped that by doing so they can bring in a new audience and help to change attitudes to mental illness.
While humour is now being used to address mental illness, many top comedians have suffered their own very personal experiences of the problem.
Entertainers including Stephen Fry and the late Spike Milligan have suffered depression while maintaining high-profile careers.
Yesterday Raymond Mearns, one of the comedians taking part in the festival, said he thought comedy would make people listen to a subject they would otherwise ignore.
"It helps to add a wee bit of sugar to the medicine," he said. "If you ask someone to listen to a talk about depression, they will just say, 'That is too boring'.
"But if there is a bit of humour, a bit of comedy, people will be more willing to sit up and take notice. I think using comedy is a fantastic idea and I really believe in this project."
Source - Scotsman