Drumming & Dance for People Living with Mental Illness

The Cause

Prosper Place is a psychosocial rehabilitation centre where people with lived experience of severe and persistent mental illness – peer members – come to take part in a purposeful work-based day.

Peer members choose their unique paths of recovery, wellness, and resilience through:
• working at reception or the canteen
• joining various Teams (Newsletter, Fundraising, Workshop-Employment, Social Recreation)
• participating in social / recreational activities and events, or
• taking educational classes with our Wellness Network Learning Community.

We wish to enhance our complement of emotional and physical wellness opportunities for peer members by delivering the following free activities in our large Studio space:
1) Dance and Creative Movement classes, and
2) Drumming Circles.

Dance classes and Drumming Circles will be offered twice per month for one year. Instructors will possess certification in their respective disciplines.

Never more important than now (due to COVID-19 creating higher anxiety levels, increased depression rates, and social isolation), music and physical activity will complement the multidimensional nature of Prosper Place and increase the opportunities for peer members to explore, discover, and choose their self-directed paths of recovery, wellness, and resilience.

Who Will it Benefit?

Currently, Prosper Place has 587 peer members who live with a diagnosis of severe and persistent mental illness. Many also live with a dual diagnosis of addiction(s). Prosper Place serves vulnerable and marginalized people 18 years of age and up.

Often, multiple chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, mobility issues, etc., complicate peer members poorer health outcomes. Their ability to achieve recovery, wellness, and resilience is a testament to the strengths they possess.

Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, in his book Surviving Schizophrenia describes how severe mental illnesses usually strike down young people at the time of emerging adulthood and subsequently they struggle with stunted social and emotional development.

Psychosocial rehabilitation centres, such as Prosper Place, offer a variety of social and emotional growth experiences through self-directed opportunities:
• Skills building through work-based days
• Confidence and self-esteem building
• Learning opportunities through curricula-based courses
• Peer to peer interactions and social stimulation

People who live with severe and persistent mental illness have poorer long-term life trajectory outcomes than the general population and they are over-represented among people experiencing homelessness and in prison populations. They have shorter lives on average as they often succumb to premature death.

People who live with severe and persistent mental illness have much higher rates of poverty, even when they live on income replacement programs such as AISH.

The effects of pervasive systemic and overt stigma towards mental illness both externally and through internalized stigma are manifest in many ways. Most notably, pervasive stigma and discrimination lead to chronic social isolation and high rates of suicide. Loss of connection to community and fractured self-identity also contribute to a sense that “my life does not matter”.

Social isolation is a major barrier to recovery, wellness, and resilience. Just getting out of the apartment or group home to share a day with peers can be a real challenge.

Music and physical activity release endorphins into the bloodstream, giving the sensation of pleasure and improving ones physical, psychological, and emotional health outcomes.

A day that includes meaningful activity will contribute to positive health outcomes and foster a sense among peers that their lives matter. It results in a renewed sense of hope and belonging.