Dance in an enormously challenging and competitive industry, and as a result dancers grapple with unique stresses and strains throughout their training and professional careers. Unfortunately, the vast majority of dancers don’t have access to, or the funds to access, the specific mental health support they need. In order to combat this issue, we are setting up STEPPS to provide the dance community with accessible, specialised mental health support.
Our projects will empower dance schools and dance companies in the UK and around the world to create more understanding and nurturing environments through training and educational programmes, as well as providing dancers with access to free counselling and mental health support, BUT we need your help to get up and running!
I am Terry Hyde MA (MBACP), psychotherapist and retired professional dancer. I started ballet at the age of six, and went on to dance with The Royal Ballet, and as a soloist in London's Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet) and featured in West End musicals, films and TV shows. Due to my decades of experience in the professional dance industry, I understand the demands placed on artists by both others and themselves. Following my retirement from my second career as a personal and business manager to dancers and performers, I retrained and qualified as a psychotherapist in 2010 and established Counselling for Dancers in 2017, which has since grown into a team of creatives working together to put mental health support on a par with the support available for dancers’ physical health.
During lockdown I provided discounted and free counselling sessions for dancers, and was eager to do more to make this service as accessible as possible. Hence I came up with STEPPS.
What is STEPPS?
These are the key areas we will be focussing on in order to improve dancers’ mental health.
STEPPS will be a Social Enterprise Community Interest Company, meaning it will make profit for PURPOSE. Profits will be used to fund the running of further projects to support the wider dance community. The projects will also be eligible for more external funding, enabling us to grow their scale and accessibility and therefore maximise our impact. In order for all of this to happen, we need your help, which is why we have set up this campaign.
The money raised is needed to set up STEPPS, covering the legal fees associated with setting up a new company as well as website and admin costs. Further to that, it will provide the first six months of Support Projects including:
- Mental Health training and educational opportunities for dance schools and dance companies
- Free and reduced-rate counselling sessions for dancers
- Training dancers to become mental health first aiders and mental health first aid instructors
We truly believe that the availability of funded counselling sessions in particular, will have a huge positive impact on dancers from all socio-economic backgrounds.
How Can You Help?
We’d love it if you could share our Crowdfunding Page to reach as many people as possible, and of course donating what you can to help us get this up and running!
Take a look at our rewards at the side of our page as a thank you for your kind contributions. These include an exclusive pair of tickets to our launch event at Capezio (Covent Garden) in July this year, as well as personal development books for dancers, workshops and discounted counselling services.
We are very grateful for any and all donations from as little as £1!
We have chosen to go ‘All-Or-Nothing’, meaning we will only receive the money we raise if we reach our target of £4,000 by 31st May so please, get your donations in quickly and share our campaign so that we can provide this essential service to the dance community.
Terry and the Counselling for Dancers team
Why do dancers need specialised mental health support?
The understanding of the unique demands dancers face is necessary to effectively support their mental health. Since dance is a physical art form that has an ideal of ‘perfection’, dancers are especially susceptible to suffer from low self-esteem, poor body image, and a multitude of other issues. Dance culture fosters a mentality of stoicism, and unfortunately dancers are often discouraged from allowing themselves to show emotion or ‘weakness’ in the studio, meaning they often struggle to healthily process their feelings. Furthermore, the dance world is enormously insular, hence the culture is difficult to understand for those who have not experienced it. Mental health support provided by those who understand the culture and the expectations placed on dancers as a result of it will allow dancers to express their feelings without having to contextualise them, making the mental health support they receive more practical and appropriate.
How will training Mental Health First Aiders help?
It’s about creating an open and understanding environment. The more that people learn about mental health, the more we will break down the stigmas that discourage people to open up about what they are going through. With mental health first aiders present in every dance school and company, dancers and faculty will have someone with the knowledge of how to listen to mental health concerns, and the ability to guide those suffering to appropriate help. With more mental health first aiders, including freelancers, we hope to prevent the amount of serious mental health concerns from developing through people accessing the support they need as early as possible.
Why set up the new company STEPPS?
At the moment, I provide therapy sessions and workshops on my own through Counselling for Dancers, but there is a limit to how many dancers I can support with this current set up. STEPPS, as a Social Enterprise Community Interest Company, will allow us to scale projects, grow the team and therefore, increase our network of support. The profit for purpose nature of the company allows us to invest more into community projects and provide help for those people who may not otherwise be able to access the mental health support they need.
How can I donate?
Press the ‘Support Us’ button at the top of our page. Here, you can select how much you would like to donate and browse through our rewards.
We thank you for your kindness and don’t forget to share our page!