Mind is thrilled to have been featured as the chosen charity on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special which aired on BBC1 at 6.45pm on Christmas Day. The film saw celebrities, professional dancers and supporters of Mind rubbing shoulders as they performed the cha-cha-cha!
Around 50 lucky people were invited along to a special party. The crowd was made up of fundraisers, staff, volunteers and even a dance group from the local Camden Mind. They were wowed with a dance demonstration by Gorka and Janette, fed mince pies by Ainsley Harriot and invited to compare Christmas jumpers with Anton du Beke.
The film aimed to show that not everyone finds it easy at Christmas. Indeed recent research found that many people feel unable to cope at Christmas, particularly people currently experiencing a mental health problem. Some of our media volunteers shared stories about both difficult, past Christmasses and more importantly shared ways they have overcome problems during the festive period.
Attending the party was Richard who has been supported by Mind at Christmas, which he finds a particularly hard time of the year. He said;
“Christmas is actually very stressful for me, I just want to go out and enjoy myself and be like everyone else but this time of year reminds me how hard it can be to deal with ‘being me’. My OCD means I can’t go out and enjoy Christmas markets, or seeing friends. On Christmas day I should be looking forward to opening presents and being with people but instead I’m worrying about the wrapping paper and where it’s been.
“Mind has supported me over email and even on Twitter. It sounds silly tweeting an organisation but they always come back to you and knowing that a real human has seen your message, and understands, makes the world of difference. It’s the little things at a time like Christmas when I need ongoing support.”
This year the particular focus for the Christmas film was how dance can benefit mental health, either through a wellbeing activity or as an actual dance therapy. Many of the people at the party from Mind had used dancing or other exercise at some point to help their mental health. Including Maria who found herself unwell and struggling with her mental health when the BBC show gave her something to look forward to each week. She explains;
“Following a diagnosis of depression and OCD I found myself in crisis. In order to cope with each day, I had to make myself like a zombie –I couldn’t see my life beyond each minute. I spent days in bed or lying on the sofa. The telly was on but I didn’t know what was on it. It was Autumn, and Strictly had started. I had done some dancing in the past, and I loved Strictly. It became the one thing that I looked forward to each week; which meant that I was looking to a future beyond each minute. Gradually my medication kicked in and I had the strength to adopt a more holistic approach to my recovery, undergoing CBT.”
“It was at this time that I decided I was going to start dancing again; strictly had inspired me. I found a Latin and ballroom class on a Monday evening. The classes were an hour and for that hour, no matter what distressing thoughts were in my head my mind was free. All that mattered was the moves that I was being taught, the line of my arms, the shape of by body and the music running through me. Dancing became part of my recovery and with each week I became stronger.”
Mind is now running Get Set to Go projects in eight areas in England, encouraging people to do physical activity to improve mental health. We have also published new information about how to get started with physical activity and how sport can improve physical and mental health - visit the Get Set to Go site for details.