Georgia Cooper - Northern School of Contemporary Dance

Georgia Cooper, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, NSCD

Student Wellbeing Intervention Project

External partner: Professor Andrew Hill, Professor of Medical Psychology, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences

This project aims to bring a holistic approach to supporting the emotional wellbeing of students, by trialling a curriculum-based approach to early intervention in and prevention of emotional distress around body image and disordered eating amongst conservatoire-level dance students.

One of the mental health issues that features at a higher than average rate during dance training is eating disorders. This project was preceded by a short pilot investigation where baseline assessments of attitudes to food and emotional wellbeing were carried out on referrals through student services.  Analysis of anonymised data showed trends which led to the proposal for further enquiry.

In collaboration with Professor Andrew Hill, the research seeks to normalise data collection beyond the physiological data already collected at point of entry to the school, by enriching this from the perspective of emotional well-being for comparison. This data will enable the school to test whether its specific curriculum approach to body image, nutrition and wellbeing supports healthy attitudes to food and self. The research aims to encourage a questioning approach to accepted ‘dance body’ norms and stereotypes.