Introduction

At the ICMT we know that our student’s physical health and mental health are equally important and symbiotic. Maintaining a conscious awareness of both physical and mental fitness is paramount to ensuring a happy lifestyle, effective training, and a successful career.

In recent years, there has been an enormous step forward regarding increased awareness of personal wellbeing and acknowledging the impact of maintaining good health, particularly mental health in musical theatre training. The ICMT  follows a rigorous set of guidelines and commitments established through institutional experiences, industry expectations, medical guidance, and external consultation. Through this, we ensure we meet our student’s needs and deliver in their preparation for the demands and pressures found within the professional industry. These commitments and guidelines are regularly reviewed and adapted to ensure that care for the physical and mental wellbeing of everyone is at the forefront of life at the ICMT.

Physical accident or injury can happen all too easily within performing arts training, whilst 1 in 3 students can be susceptible to experiencing mental health issues[1]. Statistically, the 18–25-year-old age category is more likely to experience mental health issues than other age groups, with 34% of higher education students reporting psychological difficulties for which they needed professional help[2]. Also, the prevalence of mental health problems is considerably higher in the performing arts community[3], with findings recognised and explored by the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine[4].

Our commitments

We are passionate about safe practice and committed to a stigma-free, open environment that encourages everyone to talk openly about health and well-being without fear of judgement and discrimination.

The ICMT is committed to delivering:

Physical Health

  • A daily warmup to prepare the body for classes and the day ahead in order to develop strength, stamina, and safe practice.
  • Daily vocal warmups to ensure the voice is safely prepared for the day and classes ahead, thus building strength, stamina, and safe practice through repetition.
  • Classes on vocal and body anatomy (skeletal and muscular) for students to learn about themselves and to support safe and healthy practice.
  • Classes on nutrition and fitness to maintain good health and produce informed decisions about what we eat and how we exercise.
  • Body Conditioning classes to increase fitness, flexibility, strength, stamina, and overall physical health whilst encouraging a healthy mindset.

Mental Health

  • Mental Health & Wellbeing sessions that bring students together to address mental health, particularly within the performing arts, talk about performance anxiety, and discuss the mechanisms and tools that can be utilised to promote resilience, positivity, and a healthy mind.
  • Yoga, Pilates, and Mindfulness classes to promote and maintain a healthy body and mind.
  • A safe environment, ensuring where training and taking risks will be free of judgement.
  • A zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment, and discrimination of any kind.
  • Maintaining a designated Safeguarding and Deputy Safeguarding Lead who are responsible for checking in on the wellbeing of all students and are a direct port of call for any student suffering mentally or emotionally.
  • An open-door policy where all staff are available to talk to and are happy to do so.
  • Regular check-ins that address:
    • the challenges faced during training.
    • workload/class management.
    • the wellbeing of the student.
    • creating achievable and quantifiable goals that ensure a focused and positive mindset throughout training

Our pledge

We pledge to:

  • Make sure recognised support services that may be beneficial are highly visible, both on campus and in the student handbook and intranet.
  • Emphasise to students to be registered with a local GP.
  • Maintain accurate records of physical and mental illness incidents, including steps taken to aid recovery and provide support.
  • Maintain a record of each student’s health information. We encourage students to share any existing medical conditions and medications to ensure that we can provide the best support possible.
  • Encourage students to engage in discussions around mental health and identify the differences between mental health and mental illness.

The ICMT will draw upon external professionals in situations that require specialised care and assistance beyond what it can offer. This includes links with physiotherapists, chiropractors, vocal doctors, leading vocal coaches and vocal therapists, life coaches, counsellors, and support foundations to ensure that adequate support can be received.

Staff

At the ICMT we know that our dedicated faculty are just as important as our students and are an integral part of the family, forming the backbone of our college. Ensuring our staff’s physical and mental health is in good order is not only decent human practice and the right thing to do, but it also ensures that all classes are delivered to the high standards we hold ourselves to – and that all students come to expect.

The ICMT is committed to delivering to our staff:

  • Meetings that discuss a tutor’s physical and mental health and their encouragement to promote good physical and mental health to all students.
  • Regular individual check-ins to tutors by senior faculty.
  • Senior faculty check-ins with each other regularly.
  • Class observations that include the recognition of a healthy body and mind within the observed tutor and in the delivery of material to a class.
  • Mental health awareness training to support students’ wellbeing, recognise the signs of mental health concerns in themselves and others, and where to refer to for support.
  • Training and support in handling and delivering matters of pastoral care.
  • Sensitivity and support for a tutor’s wellbeing in whatever form requested or needed should it be required.

The ICMT has a zero-tolerance approach to the abuse of any declaration regarding physical or mental health conditions. We will always conduct a comprehensive investigation promptly when such a situation arises, as it reflects our commitment to promote physical and mental well-being.

We are mindful that we are all living through an unprecedented event in our lifetimes and recognise the need to be patient and adaptive as we work together to rebuild our lives and plan for careers that may seem more uncertain than before. Musical theatre training is amongst the most demanding and challenging of vocational studies. When training on an intensive course, it is all too easy to overlook the signs that we physically or mentally may need a break or require attention, and whilst it can be easier said than done, it is always possible to make time for our wellbeing and give our mind and body the care it deserves.

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”

World Health Organisation.

From all at the ICMT.

References
[1] Dig-in. The Insight Network. Student Mental Health Survey 2018. Published March 2019.
[2] www.mhfaengland.org/mhfa-centre/research-and-evaluation
[3] Van den Eynde J, 2016. Working in the Australian Entertainment Industry. Victoria University, Melbourne.
[4] www.bapam.org.uk. Supporting Mental Health in the Performing Arts. 2020.