We have gathered together some useful resources on various mental health topics for dancers, dance teachers and directors to utilise. For specific questions about mental health, please send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will seek advice from our Dance Medicine and Science expert panel to answer your query.
Or click on one of the topics below to find related resources, or scroll down to browse through them all...
If you feel that you’re in immediate danger of seriously harming yourself or taking your own life, call 999 and ask for help or go to your nearest Accident & Emergency department (A&E)
If you are looking for a dance-specialist psychologist, psychotherapist/counsellor, dance movement psychotherapist or any other holistic mental health practitioner, any of the following services can support you
If you are looking for support for general mental health concerns the following resources may be useful
Starting the conversation about mental health
Heads Together: Heads Together is a charity that works in tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health challenges. To find out more visit their website.
We love this video Heads Together have released of model Adowa Aboah talking to her mum, Camilla, about the first time she started talking about her struggles with mental health.
Men's Health Forum: Check out Men’s Health Forum’s manifesto about how to make it easier for men and boys to talk about physical and mental health within your environment. To find out more click here.
The Blurt Foundation: Blurt aim to increase awareness and understanding of depression by providing peer-support, podcasts and their amazing BuddyBox scheme. To find out more click here.
Mental Health Foundation: Dedicated to finding and addressing the sources of mental health problems. Find their A-Z Guide to Mental Health here.
Foundations for Excellence: Foundations for Excellence existed to share research, resources and best practice for the support and development of talented young musicians, singers and dancers. This was achieved through the online resource hub, the commission of new information sheets on a variety of specific topics and a biennial conference. The information sheet on performance anxiety created by Foundations for Excellence in collaboration with One Dance UK’s Healthier Dancer Programme, is now made available via their website.
One Dance UK’s Healthier Dancer Programme offers a range of talks for schools and companies. On their menu of talks they offer a workshop on improving confidence and reducing anxiety amongst dancers. Contact email@example.com for more information or click here to visit their website.
Tips for Dancers on Anxiety
This paper provides basic information on the symptoms & causes of anxiety, describes various types of anxiety-related disorders and provides ways to manage anxiety. Access this Dance/USA Task Force on Dancer Health Informational Sheet here.
Performance Anxiety for Dancers - Dance Knowledge course
Performance anxiety affects dancers through underlying mechanisms and functions.
By separating somatic and cognitive anxiety we take a closer look at patterns of anxiety and how practicing performance scripts can mediate anxiety in response to performance. To take this online course, click here.
Mind: Mind is a mental health charity providing advice and support, with the aim to empower those experiencing mental health issues. They are campaigning to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. To find out more click here.
For more information on symptoms of anxiety and ways to find help, visit their website.
Anxiety UK: Anxiety UK works to relieve and support those living with anxiety and anxiety-based depression by providing information, support and understanding. To learn more visit their website. For access to their support and resources click here.
NHS support for anxiety disorders: Feeling anxious or nervous is a common emotion for us all at different times in our lives but for someone suffering with an anxiety disorder it can be a struggle to control emotion on a daily basis in many different situations. For more information about generalised anxiety disorder in adults click here.
Tips on Depressive Illness for Dancers
Depressive illness can change how one performs and functions. This paper helps dancers to recognize some of the signs and symptoms of depression, along with some resources for when and where to get help.
Access this Dance/USA Task Force on Dancer Health Informational Sheet here.
Pushing physical boundaries/creating new work
ROCKBOTTOM is a moving and incredibly honest self-portrait of personal struggle with depression and addiction from Stuart Waters, a successful performer for 20 year. ROCKBOTTOM is a deeply personal piece, about how Stuart hit his own ‘rock-bottom’ and survived to tell the tale. Despite enjoying 15 years at the peak of his career, Stuart Waters was secretly battling with his own demons. His experience of addiction, mental health problems, and reaching rock-bottom, has been the inspiration for this solo dance theatre work.
Self confidence and communication skills course from Dance in Mind - This free course developed by psychologist Imogen Aujla is designed to help you enhance your confidence and communication skills in a variety of situations, enabling you to understand where confidence comes from and types of thinking that can inhibit confidence. Comprising of short webinar-style videos and accompanying worksheets, the course will help you learn how to create more positive judgements of yourself and your abilities, how to develop a growth mindset, deal with criticism (and your inner critic), how to effectively set and monitor goals to help you achieve your ambitions, communicate and listen effectively, and how to be more assertive. Learn more and take the course here.
Building Resilience course from Dance in Mind Resilience isn’t about pushing relentlessly through difficulties or going through something alone. It’s also much more than the ability to “bounce back”. We need to understand that resilience is a process – and it’s something that everyone has the capacity to develop. That’s what this free course is all about! This course, developed by psychologist Imogen Aujla, will take you much deeper into the concept, helping you to build your resilience by increasing your optimism and self-confidence. You’ll learn how to better manage stress and how to change the way you perceive situations to reduce negative reactions to them. You’ll explore the importance of social support and how you can offer support to others, too. The course comprises 8 videos with over 115 minutes of content introducing you to the theoretical foundations of resilience as well as evidence-based strategies and ideas. Learn more and take the course here.
#dancersneedrest Rest is anything that gives you a break – either physical or mental. In order to push artistic and technical boundaries, professional dancers work long hours and push their bodies in the studio and onstage, sometimes in addition to training outside of dance. However, if a dancer does too much and ignores early warning signs, they risk the serious and lasting issue of overtraining or burnout. Busy class, rehearsal and performing schedules (not to mention a dancer’s personal drive for perfection) can also result in overtraining and injury. To find out more click here.
One Dance UK's support for eating disorders and body image: All those in dance have a right to psychological well-being and healthy dance environments to thrive in their training and careers. This document provides support for eating disorders, disordered eating, and energy concerns among dancers. Seek help, find guidance, and learn more here.
Foundations for Excellence: What motivates you to dance? If you are dance teacher or a director, how do you motivate your dancers? Foundations for Excellence created a resource sheet discussing different types of motivation and how to improve and maintain your motivation. Check it out here.
Empowering Dance: Research shows that the 'right' training and learning environment leads to happier, healthier and more accomplished performers, who are more able to cope with the demands of training as well as professional dance careers. Based on the ground-breaking work of Prof Joan Duda at the University of Birmingham, Empowering Dance workshops offer choreographers, directors and teachers the knowledge to create positive environments for dancers. Find out more here.
Elsa Urmston discusses positive psychology in dance teaching at the Beyond the Body conference in the video below.
Improving mental health support in schools
If you or someone you know has experienced abuse or other mental health issues in a dance setting, it can be difficult to know where to turn. At NIDMS, we offer a range of resources and support to help you navigate this challenging time. From reporting and advocacy to mental health support and guidance, our team is here to help you find the resources and support you need to address these issues. We are committed to promoting health and well-being and creating a safer, more supportive dance community for everyone.
Place2Be is the UK's leading children's mental health charity providing in-school support and expert training. To find out more click here.
Young Mind’s is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.
We champion children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing across the UK. Driven by their experience we create change so that children and young people can cope with life’s adversities, find help when needed and succeed in life. To find out more about their mission and how they work, visit their website.
Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK
Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) recognizes body movement as an implicit and expressive instrument of communication and expression. DMP is a relational process in which client/s and therapist engage in an emphatic creative process using body movement and dance to assist integration of emotional, cognitive, physical, social and spiritual aspects of self. Find out more here.
Research studies and publications on the relationship between DMP and Mental Health can be found here.
Togetherall is an online mental health and wellbeing service offering self-help programmes, creative outlets and a community that cares. When you're dealing with everyday stressors or major life events, we'll help you get through it. Find out more here.
Cruse Bereavement Care
Cruse Bereavement Care offers face-to-face, telephone, email, website support and a place for people to turn to when someone dies. Click here to visit their website.
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide offers support services for adults over 18 who have been bereaved or affected by suicide. Services are run by volunteers, the majority of whom have been bereaved by suicide themselves. Find out more about thier work here.
Alliance of Hope
The Alliance of Hope provides healing support for people coping with the shock, excruciating grief, and complex emotions that accompany the loss of a loved one to suicide. We hope that you will find resources here to help you deal with, and eventually heal from, the pain of your loss. Find support with them here.
LGBTQ+ Mental Health
An organisation that specialises in supporting young trans people under the age of 21. They deliver trans youth programmes, support for parents and carers, professional development and trans awareness training for all sectors and educational workshops for schools, colleges, Universities and other educational settings. Their mission is to increase understandings of gender diversity.
World Professional Association for Transgender Health
Promotes the highest standards of health care for individuals through the articulation of Standards of Care (SOC) for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People. The SOC are based on the best available science and expert professional consensus.
Supports gender-diverse children and young people until their 20th birthday, as well as their families and professionals involved in their care. Transgender and gender-variant children and teens need support and understanding, as well as the freedom to explore their gender identity. Whatever the outcome, Mermaids is committed to helping families navigate the challenges they may face. Mermaids has been supporting trans and gender-diverse children, young people, and their families since 1995. Back at the start, they were a small group of concerned parents sitting around the kitchen table, coming together to share experiences, find answers and look for ways to keep their children safe and happy. Today, Mermaids has evolved into one of the UK’s leading LGBTQ+ charities, empowering thousands of people with its secure online communities, local community groups, helpline services, web resources, events and residential weekends. We also seek to educate and inform wider society on gender identity by helping professionals accommodate and reassure gender-variant young people.
Safeguarding and Abuse in Dance
If you believe a child is in immediate danger, please call the police on 999.
If you have concerns about anyone 18 or older at risk of or experiencing abuse, contact your local council in the UK. You can also refer to the UK Government guidance on rape or sexual assault.
NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit
The NSPCC's Child Protection in Sport Unit works to safeguard children in sport and other physical activities. Together we can help our young people play sport and stay safe. https://thecpsu.org.uk/
Ann Craft Trust
Advice and training on safeguarding adults at risk and adults in physical activity, including templates for policies and procedures. https://www.anncrafttrust.org/
Whistle While You Work
A platform co-directed by Frances Chiaverini (dancer/choreographer) and Robyn Doty (writer/dramaturg) that promotes conversation around harassment, discrimination, and violence towards women and marginalized groups particularly while at work in the arts, especially in professional dance and performance.
Equity Dignity and Work information
Everyone deserves to feel safe at work and hostile behaviour should not be tolerated. Equity is committed to: helping those who have endured bullying, threats or attacks; changing our industry's culture to stop perpetrators and to let them know that they will be held accountable for their actions. Learn more about Equity's approach in the Dignity at Work section of their website and this guide to bullying & harassment.
Equity Members can report incidents to their Bullying and Harassment Helpline (020 7670 0268) and receive advice on what to do in their situation. They can also email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
One Dance UK Industry Standards
Drawn up by One Dance UK’s Healthier Dancer Programme following input from representatives from dance companies, dance training and education, independent dance and community dance, the Industry Standards are an attempt to provide, in one simple document, clear guidelines on the standards of practice the dance industry is striving for that can be used as an advocacy tool and checklist. Learn more here.
Concerned about Abuse and Harassment on Tour? Some Things to Think About
By defining and discussing Harassment, Abuse, and Bullying this paper helps the dancer to recognize, to prevent, and to handle or modify these harmful events. Access this Dance/USA Task Force on Dancer Health Informational Sheet here.
Big little secrets: Traumatic Experiences in the Dance World
This paper discusses some main sources of trauma in the dance world and methods that can be taken to prevent abuse. It also provides strategies on how to cope with trauma. Access this Dance/USA Task Force on Dancer Health Informational Sheet here.
Training for dance leaders, educators and teachers
NSPCC Safeguarding in the performing arts training
If you’re organising or providing performing arts activities that involve children, you must prioritise their wellbeing. To learn more about how to do this, reference the helpful information on the NSPCC website here.
Safer Dance Lunchtime Conversations These 1-hour CPD sessions provide dance specific guidance for key topics in safeguarding including safer recruitment, DBS checks, supporting dance students' mental health, creating inclusive dance environments, and creating a positive culture in dance settings. Watch the videos here.
Research shows that the 'right' training and learning environment leads to happier, healthier and more accomplished performers, who are more able to cope with the demands of training as well as professional dance careers. Based on the ground-breaking work of Prof Joan Duda at the University of Birmingham, this workshop offers choreographers, directors and teachers the knowledge to create positive environments for dancers. To find out more or to book training for yourself, your staff, or your students, email us.
Safe in Dance International Safe in Dance International (SiDI) believes that it is the right of everyone involved in dance to teach, study, train, rehearse and perform in a safe and supportive environment. With this in mind we support, develop, encourage and endorse the implementation of healthy dance practice worldwide. They offer training and certification for dancers, dance practitioners, and dance organisations. Find out more on their website here.
Dancers and perfectionism - IADMS resource paper
High standards, a desire for perfection, and self critical attitudes are sometimes associated with dancers. IADMS has created a resource paper that explores perfectionism in dance, the possible outcomes that dancers may experience, and recommendations for what to do. Find out more here.
Dancers and perfectionism - Dance Knowledge course
The paradox of perfectionism is that perfectionism can be a friend and a foe. Positive and negative perfectionism are distinct thinking styles, feelings, and behaviors. Consider how perfectionism functions in dance practice. Recognise how positive and negative perfectionism impacts dancers by taking this online course here.
How perfectionism is learnt and reinforced in dance - Dance Knowledge course
It is strongly recommended that you complete the Introduction to perfectionism in dance course prior to enrolling this course.
The second part in the Dancing to perfection series. Explore how perfectionism is learnt and reinforced in the dance environment.
What caused you to become a perfectionist and what keeps your perfectionism going? Make clear distinctions between the three dimensions of perfectionism and consider how perfectionism is amplified through dance training.
Coping with Stress on Stage and in Life: The practice of mindfulness and self-compassion
This paper will help you learn more about stress and coping strategies. There is discussion on self-compassion and approaches to implement this into everyday life. Access this resource here.
Mindfulness for Dancers workshop
In this session discusses what mindfulness really is and trys to unfold the power of here and now. It looks at how to tailor mindfulness specifically for dancers; specifically what can be achieved through mindfulness, and what are the hindrances to mindfulness. It also addresses how compassion towards ourselves is essential for our wellbeing.
To access a recording a workshop, click here
COVID19 and dancers' wellbeing
One Dance UK workshops
During lockdown, One Dance UK provided workshops for dancers on maintaining wellbeing during COVID19. To access these workshops, click here