Matt Bellace: Mental Health Speaker at Wayne Valley High School

Matt Bellace, a comedian with a Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology, came to Wayne Valley on March 2nd to speak about mental health. Combining comical audience activities with real evidence, he conveyed the importance of mental health and how students can improve their lives.

The most important topic he discussed was drug abuse. He detailed several different substances (marijuana,  alcohol, fentanyl) and their effects using graphs, displaying correlations with mental health impairments, and supplying images of the brain when it has been affected by drugs. His recollections, such as the one where a failed football player fell into alcoholism, supported his message and explained why some people may abuse substances. Ultimately, as was the focus of his show, he displayed the growth-inducing outcomes of these stories and how any misfortune could be used to improve people’s lives.

Bellace also employed interactive activities to engage his audience: a box was used to collect applause; two groups performed a trust exercise in which they leaned on each others’ legs; Bellace guessed 4 people’s hobbies whose hints, unknown to them, were put in the context of “kissing;” he used two more audience members to display music’s emotional power while the volunteers guessed and sang songs. Bellace held attention excellently, expertly repurposing the awkwardness when he was interrupted to teach a lesson. Copies of his book, “Life Is Disappointing… and Other Inspiring Thoughts,” also found their way into a few participants’ hands. Wayne Valley thanks Bellace for his performance and hopes that his messages helped students understand mental health and, maybe, change their lifestyles.