Dr. Clown Foundation expands to support children with mental illness

Montréal, Tuesday, May 7, 2019

A 2017 recipient of a Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund grant, Québec’s Dr. Clown Foundation is an innovative arts-in-healthcare organization that aims to improve the quality of life of hospitalized children through visits with therapeutic clowns. The Community Fund grant allowed the Foundation to train more than 40 therapeutic clowns in a new specialized mental health program. In collaboration with medical staff and psychosocial workers, the artists have now learned best practices to support children with mental health issues. Since that time, more than 170 sessions have been offered to children with severe mental health issues at a Montréal children’s hospital.

Therapeutic clowns are also used as facilitators to diffuse stressful situations and help children build social skills by helping them to better understand the reaction of others.

“When the therapeutic clowns were able to intervene following a crisis, it helped to de-dramatize the situation for both the children and the caregiver and regulate emotions like sadness and anxiety,” says psychosocial worker Vanessa Harton from Montréal’s Hôpital en santé mentale Rivière-des-Prairies.

Since 2011, the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund has provided $9 million to 534 organizations nationwide, enabling them to improve access to mental health care, supports and services for people living with mental health issues. The 2019 recipients will be announced in the fall.