A Watford based drama therapy group has been moving audiences to laughter and tears with their personal insights into mental illness.

May Contain Nuts, which started life as a drama therapy group under the guidance of Gerald Meiello, recently secured funding from the Arts Council after an application by Nicola Williams to set itself up as a reparatory company.

Gerald said: "Thanks to Nicola’s perseverance and understanding of the grants process we now find ourselves in a strong position for the upcoming project. It’s a fantastic achievement for Nicola and the company.

"Different therapies suit different people and drama allows people to express themselves through movement and performance.

"The group has performed several times and either moves people to laughter or tears. It can be funny and raw at the same time but it’s all rooted in personal experience."

The group includes people recovering from conditions including anxiety, depression, PTSD and Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder.

Service user Katherine Owen-Smith said: ‘I’ve always loved drama and the fact that I don’t have to censor myself or worrying about what people think is great.

"It’s very liberating and gives me the chance to pull myself out of my own head and explore things I can’t in the real world. We’re showing people what it’s like going through the world a little bit broken. Mental illness can be frightening but you have to be able to see the funny side of things as well."

Lyanne Thornton-Harewood said her life came "crashing down" after university and drama therapy was just the tonic.

Lyanne said: "I’m with a group of people who know all about me and are always there for me. Our first performance together lasted just over an hour and went by in flash. It was a wonderful feeling to see the audience’s reaction.

"I just remember thinking I want more of this and my advice to anyone else considering drama therapy is to just go for it."

The group, who meet twice a month in Colne House, Watford, came up with the name themselves.

Liz Weatherley added: "I’ve had several spells in a hospital and mental health can get very heavy duty. I think some health professionals need to lighten up and take things less seriously sometimes the name helps us stand out from the crowd and reflects our own attitude to mental health."

The group recently found themselves in front of the camera when they appeared in a promotional film encouraging more students to consider drama therapy as a career at Anglia Ruskin University.

To contact May Contain Nuts, phone Gerald on 07979933540 or email Nicola Williams on Nicola_dramatherapy@hotmail.com.