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A Service User-Led Study Promoting Mental Well-Being for the General Public, Using 5 Rhythms Dance

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There is increasing interest in leisure pursuits that promote health, including dance classes for the public. A few studies suggest that dance movement therapy can have a positive effect on the mental health of people in psychiatric settings, but there is little in the literature about the effects of dance in public settings. This article reports a study of women's experience of a form of expressive dance called 5 Rhythms, which is popular throughout the world. This participatory research project was led by current and former mental health service users, and supported by the Mental Health Foundation. The benefits of this initiative are reported. Dancers were recruited from the general public. Interviews, diaries and a survey were used to investigate women's experience of dancing. Qualitative analysis showed that the participants appreciated dance workshops that provided a safe space, freedom of expression, structure, powerful music and group connections. The dance was transformative, helping people move from being 'stuck', release powerful feelings and integrate parts of themselves. The dancers reported using regular dancing as a strategy for emotional well-being and dealing with emotional crises. The discussion emphasises that 5 Rhythms is not a therapy, but an emotional and therapeutic experience in which dancers need to take responsibility for themselves. 5 Rhythms comes from the tradition of shamanic dance in the way that it acts to maintain the psychic well-being of a community. It is suggested that pleasurable activities such as dance should be accessible to everyone, and recommendations are made to promote this.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 November 2004

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Mental Health Promotion co-ordinates the dissemination of new research outcomes to all those involved in policy making and the implementation of mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention policies. It is essential reading for those with a personal or professional interest in this work.

    Peer reviewed by an expert international board, the Journal is a comprehensive information system which publishes material of distinction submitted by clinical/medical staff, health services researchers, managers, health promoters, educationalists, sociologists, health economists and practitioners from all branches of health and social care.

    The International Journal of Mental Health Promotion is designed to increase awareness, foster understanding and promote collaboration between the different disciplines engaged in this diverse activity of study.

    The International Journal of Mental Health Promotion is published four times a year and is an official research journal of The International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE).

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