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Characteristics and Extent of Mental Health Issues in Contemporary Dance Students

D. van Winden, R.M. van Rijn, G.J.P. Savelsbergh, R.R.D. Oudejans, J.H. Stubbe
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 35 Number 3: Page 121 (September 2020)

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Abstract: AIMS: This study investigated the extent and characteristics of mental health issues in contemporary dance students, as clear insight into these health problems is lacking. METHODS: During one academic year, 134 dance and dance-teacher students were monitored on a monthly basis using the Performing artist and Athlete Health Monitor (PAHM). RESULTS: In total, 130 students were included in the analyses, comprising 81 dance students and 49 dance-teacher students. The response rate of the monthly questionnaires was 79.7%. Overall, 96.9% of the students reported at least one physical/mental health problem. The incidence proportion (IP) of all reported mental health issues for one academic year was 44.6% (n=58). Furthermore, 29.2% of the students reported a mental health issue as their most severe health problem, of whom 39.4% indicated a substantial mental health issue (i.e., problems leading to moderate, severe, or complete reductions in training volume or performance). The monthly IP of mental health issues ranged from 2.9 to 8.9% and 0 to 5.3% for substantial mental health issues. The most reported types of mental health issues were general anxiety (20.0%), stress due to external factors (18.3%), and constant tiredness (16.7%). Dance-teacher students of all study years and second-year students from both educational programs indicated significantly more mental health issues, while sex showed no significant differences. CONCLUSIONS: Contemporary dance students are at risk of mental health issues. Dance schools should pay special attention to stress, anxiety, and (constant) tiredness of their students. More research is needed to gain insight into specific characteristics and risk factors of mental health issues in dance students.

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