Scottish Ballet planning to help mental health crisis

Scottish Ballet us to hold an event to examine how therapeutic dance can help young people look after their wellbeing in the face of a growing mental health crisis.

The Moving Minds conference is being organised in partnership with the SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health).

The immersive conference attendees’ which include healthcare professionals, arts and health specialists and education professionals, will listen to presentations, discuss, and network with other practitioners and take part in movement-based workshops.

The aim of the workshops is to upskill practitioners who work with movement and mental health and enable them to experience the benefits that young people get from one of Scottish Ballet’s workshops, which will also help improve their own wellbeing.

The performances, workshops and presentations will take place throughout Scottish Ballet, Tramway, and the Hidden Gardens, and there will be pop-up, small scale performances at various places in the building.

The Moving Minds youth advisory panel has been instrumental in developing the programme and members of the youth panel will speak and lead sessions at the conference.

The conference will be opened by a performance of a new dance piece by 16 company dancers, and members of the Youth Exchange, which has been commissioned by Scottish Ballet and created by Madeline Squire. The conference will be a collaborative event with young choreographers from across the UK who will stage their work and participate in discussion panels with contributions from One Dance UK, People Dancing, and the Sonia Sabri Company.

Jill Sonke, research director, Center for Arts in Medicine at University of Florida said: ‘Organisation’s (WHO) first ever report looking at the evidence for arts and health in 2019 highlights the growing recognition of the importance of the arts to health and wellbeing. I am delighted to be speaking at the Moving Minds conference. Scottish Ballet is driving a leading edge in making the arts an integral part of the promotion of physical, social, and mental wellbeing for people of all ages, including young people.’

Research shows that 10% of children and young people (aged five to 16) have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, around three in every class.

There are currently almost 12,000 young people waiting to receive support from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and around a quarter are rejected by the service. Nearly 2000 of those have been waiting for over a year.

Dr David Caesar, emergency physician and senior strategic advisor, Scottish Government, added: ‘The benefits of social prescribing have been well established. With the significant increase in mental health problems among young people, a holistic approach to the management of the mental health of young people is required which includes medical and non-medical interventions. Arts on prescription including dance programmes have been shown to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people.’

The benefits of arts on health and wellbeing has been acknowledged in the Creative Health report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing. The report found that the arts including dance can help people experiencing mental health problems and can save money in health and social care.

With the significant increase in young people experiencing mental health problems, which has been compounded due to the pandemic and lockdown, long term strategies are necessary to address this. A recent survey of almost 2,500 young people by the charity Young Minds found that 67% believed that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.

Catherine Cassidy, director of engagement at Scottish Ballet, added: ‘Scottish Ballet is committed to developing strategies and resources to support the mental health of young people through our ground-breaking Safe to Be Me programme.

‘The Moving Minds conference gives us the opportunity to learn directly from experienced practitioners and young people about the mental health challenges they face and how dance can help them.’

The Moving Minds Conference is being held in person in Glasgow May 4-5 , and online on Friday May 6, with tickets starting from £55 per day and early bird booking discounts available.

The conference features presentations from leading experts in mental health; arts and health and wellbeing; and young people.

For more information about the conference and to book a place, visit: