Tommy seeks support for mental health ‘dance therapy’ idea

Hi, my name is Tommy Yeung. I grew up in a Chinese take-away in Ely. I don’t think my childhood was rough. I actually loved it as I learned the meaning of hard work, the value of money, and developed a passion for cooking.

However, the nature of working in a take-away meant my parents were never there to support me. I never really learned how to talk about my feelings. As a result, I bottled up all my emotions in my childhood.  From there on, I became fiercely independent – to never ask for help and to do everything on my own.

I was diagnosed with depression in January 2014 during my final year at Cardiff University. I failed my course that year. I tried again, but my depression came back and hit me harder. I realised I never got over my problems. However, now I am open about my mental health issues, it’s made me stronger and more fulfilled in life.

I’ve recently decided to not complete my university degree. I want to do something to end the stigma surrounding mental health issues in Cardiff, and this is why I’d love your help.

I want to introduce an open dance event to Cardiff to get the word out about mental illnesses and engage the community to talk openly about it. When I was teaching English in Colombia 2 years ago, I would attend this ‘Dance Therapy’ event which took place every Wednesday evening in a public park. Everyone was welcome, from children to the elderly. It was fun, a good workout, and it brought me closer to the community.

So how would ‘Dance Therapy’ work?

It would be located in an accessible and well-known public space (e.g. Roald Dahl Plass, the oval basin outside the Millennium Centre). Ideally, it would take place in the evening (e.g. 6pm – 8pm). The music would range from Latin, Western, ‘Fun’ songs – e.g. “I’m too sexy – Right Said Fred”, “Pokemon Theme tune” or Footloose/Grease songs…anything!

Schedule:

  • Welcome everyone (get the crowd pumped)
  • Begin with a testimonial of a local person’s experience of mental health issues, and why we need to end the stigma
  • Start dancing (warm up)
  • 1 hr in – 5 min break – another testimonial – end stigma
  • Dance!
  • Finish with a cool-down & stretching routine
  • Thank you for coming, see you next week!

I feel we need to be in people’s face about mental health issues. To bring people together in a fun way. To inform them what it’s like for someone living with a mental health disorder. Talking about it with others has been invaluable, but it’s taken me years to build up the courage to do so.  Years of struggling, feeling ashamed and fears of being ostracised by society.

I am looking for support. I am only one person. I need people who are passionate about ending the stigma around mental health issues in Cardiff. People who want to change attitudes and their city. I am currently finding places where I can introduce my idea – do you know of a place that would be ideal for this to take place?

As Stephen Fry says: “Once the understanding is there, we can all stand up and not be ashamed of ourselves, then it makes the rest of the population realise we are just like them but with something extra”.

Thank you for reading. I believe Cardiff could be the leading city in the UK in tackling mental health issues. But I need your help to achieve this.

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