Castlemaine GP Richard Mayes is a firm believer that joy is often the best medicine, which is why you can find videos of him as ‘Mullet Man’ on YouTube, dancing up a storm in an 80s wig as part of his dance group’s regular flash mobs.
Richard, like many health professionals, experienced burnout earlier in his career. ‘Being a GP in a country town, delivering babies, working at the hospital, working in the emergency department, trying to be the best that I could be for the community, I wasn’t looking after myself and giving myself some time and space and selfcare,’ Richard says.
Now he’s experienced for himself the importance of making joy a priority, he tries to pass that onto his patients, particularly those with chronic illness or mental health issues.
‘I'll try and take that time to talk about what floats your boat? What gets you pumped? What gets you excited? What have you let go of? And often the goal is for them to put that back in their life.’
When locals saw Richard performing in flash mobs in town, it sparked demand from his older patients for their own dance classes. The ‘Silver Tops’ now hold their own flash mobs.
‘On a Tuesday, I do an hour of clinical work and then race down to the Movement Zone dance studio to run our class for the older generation dancers. They have varying degrees of injury and mobility issues, for which we adapt the moves. We all love it,’ Richard says.
‘I think the joy of flash mobs is they allow people that aren't used to performing to perform in a fun way. It creates a bit of a vibe around the community that people are doing things to bring joy to their lives and inspires more people to do the same.’
Watch Richard's 2020 Victorian Seniors Festival reimagined performance.