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Mental Health Literacy in Dance

  • Full or part time
    Dr J Cumming
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

Mental health literacy (MHL) is our knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders (Jorm et al., 1997), understanding of how to obtain and maintain good mental health, decreasing stigma against mental illness, and enhancing help-seeking efficacy (Kutcher et al., 2016). As an important determinant of mental health, interventions are designed to improve MHL by increasing one’s knowledge and attitudes towards mental health and increasing people’s confidence to aid those experiencing mental health symptoms (Spiker & Hammer, 2019). But, for MHL interventions to be effective, they need to be context-specific, developmentally appropriate, and effectively integrated into existing social structures, such as dance schools and community groups (Wei et al., 2015).

Unfortunately, there is currently a lack of evidence-based and developmentally-appropriate MHL resources for use in dance. The aim of this PhD is therefore to develop a MHL evidence-base in dance with the goal of informing a MHL intervention for dancers and dance professionals including teachers, choreographers, medical practitioners, and dance scientists.

After reviewing the literature and consulting with dance stakeholders, a mixed methods approach will be used to explore dancers’ and teachers’ understanding of how to obtain and maintain good mental health and their knowledge of common mental health issues in dancers (e.g., disturbed eating). Qualitative methods will be used to also explore teachers’ experiences of students with mental health problems and their confidence in providing mental health first aid skills whereas quantitative methods will investigate psychosocial determinants and outcomes of MHL in dancers, including the relationship between MHL and well-being. The feasibility of a dance MHL intervention will also be tested as well as knowledge translation activities to produce dance-specific mental resources.

Funding Notes

Applications from Home/EU and overseas students are welcome.

There is no funding available for this PhD project at current time. The University of Birmingham also offers a number of competitive scholarships for students of the highest calibre. Students are also welcome to apply with their own funding for this project either through their own person funds or by securing a scholarship (e.g., ESRC studentship - see View Website for more details).


Douglas A. Spiker & Joseph H. Hammer (2019) Mental health literacy as theory: current challenges and future directions, Journal of Mental Health, 28:3, 238-242, DOI: 10.1080/09638237.2018.1437613

Wei, Y., McGrath, P. J., Hayden, J., & Kutcher, S. (2015). Mental health literacy measures evaluating knowledge, attitudes and help-seeking: a scoping review. BMC psychiatry, 15(1), 291.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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