• Debra Fisher

Marketing Professional turned Mental Health Champion!

When I returned in July 2015 from living in the United States, I did so armed with a completely different bag of experience. It was only a short period of time before I started questioning my career. Up until then, I had been a Marketing Professional for some 25+ years which included owning a consulting practise.

Whilst reflecting over my 6 years of living abroad, I realised that I was still grieving for the sad passing of my father which had occurred within the first 8 months of being in the States. My father had died as a result of leading a stressful work life. By never being able to unlock his internal world he suffered heart related issues that eventually took his life. However, the weight and magnitude of my loss only truly hit, on return home; something I had entirely underestimated.

..And this earthquake, I felt, was followed by a number of equally unexpected aftershocks and tremors. These came in the shape or form of learnings. Unbeknown to me that whilst I had been away a number of friends had experienced mental breakdowns or suffered/were now suffering from depression. However, no one could have prepared my family and I for what was to become arguably the biggest shock of them all - at the tender age of 18 years old, our Babysitter and Friend, committed suicide. Depression had led this most talented individual to his death. To this day, words fail me and I am permanently haunted by this devastating and most tragic event.

Out of the darkness there were however glimmers of light and by some coincidence or perhaps it was fate, this was also a time when I was becoming increasingly inspired by my Daughter's passion and talent for dance. In addition, it was a period in which we were struggling to find a dance school locally that satisfied our needs. Being somewhat of a Troubleshooter, I was naturally drawn to this subject matter and with my Consultant's hat on, to problem solving the issue. Suffice to say, my research soon took on a life of its own.....

Not that I knew it at the time but between mid 2015 and the end of 2016 my worlds were colliding and something far greater than I, was taking control of my destiny...

And so it began, my personal journey drove a new professional career...With mental health issues on the rise and having undertaken extensively research into dance, I started to connect the dots. A clear opportunity emerged to use dance as a positive force for mental heath and wellbeing. I was passionate about making a personal impact by taking a professional approach.


By early 2017 Dancing by Design (DBD) was formalised and our mission: To enrich children's and adult's lives through the benefits of dance, working specifically in partnership with Schools, Workplaces and Communities to put dance at the heart of wellbeing plans! In the battle to address rising mental health issues amongst children and adults our weapon is and will always be dance.

Today, DBD boasts in excess of 100 students, has formed various partnerships with organisations, schools and associations with relevant charities. We are rapidly growing and the reasons are quite simply because of the research proven benefits of dance specifically for mental and more generally for physical health and wellbeing. As the UK's Health Secretary, Matt Hancock was recently quoted as saying "Doctors should prescribe dance classes..for Wellbeing". The Government clearly understands the health benefits to be gained from creative practises.

My personal story and passion runs deep - In short, I have switched career path, retrained as a Mental Health Champion, I am the proud owner of a growing dance business (DBD) and an advocate of dance for wellbeing. Lives are being enriched through DBD's unique approaches and methodologies. However, we have a long way to go on our mission to raise awareness and demonstrate the impact of dance on mental health and wellbeing.

Whilst I am proud of our accomplishments to date and confident in our successes to come, I personally wish that I had known earlier in life of the positive affect dance can have on lives as I could have rewritten the Stars...As one smart gentleman once said:

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing but foresight is better especially when it comes to saving life or some pain"

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