Today is World Mental Health Day. Started by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992, it is a day devoted to raising consciousness for mental health causes and raising funds for these causes.

As a Provocative Therapist, I considered watching the Academy Award winning film, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (sic) but decided against this for fear of being taken too seriously – the worst thing that can happen to a Provocative Therapist.

As Oscar Wilde wisely said: Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it. So maybe some laughter can do some good on World Mental Health Day. Mental illness is no laughing matter of course, but laughter can help people feel better mentally as well as physically. I’ve summarized the physical benefits of laughter with an mnemonic which can be seen here, but the psychological effects of laughter have been obvious for millennia. That’s why ancient Greek theatre included comedy as well as tragedy.

Of course Provocative Therapy is very different from Laughter Therapy (sometimes called Laughter Yoga). Laughter Therapy makes people feel better by getting them to fake laughter initially. So people laugh at nothing and then begin to laugh spontaneously. The great Laughter Guru is Madan Kataria in Bombay who is a fantastic fake laugher capable of making large crowds in India laugh, maintains that fake laughter is as healthy for you as genuine laughter. Laughter provoked in Provocative Therapy sessions is different.

When people laugh during Provocative Therapy sessions, they laugh at their Inner Joke, the funny side of how they are preventing themselves leading fulfilled lives. This is a very different type of laughter that not only benefits your health, but also opens a window of opportunity for change in your life.

So spare a thought, pound or dollar for the mentally ill today. And have a laugh too – for your own physical and mental health.