Sometimes it can be difficult to make the call. All sorts of things can run through our minds and stop us from reaching out for help.

Maybe we hope the problem will just sort itself out, or we worry that it’s not ‘bad enough’ yet, so we wait. But if you’re struggling, you could benefit from calling the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline.

We asked the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline’s Clinical Services Manager, Dorienne Spennato, about what happens when we call the Helpline, to de-mystify what happens when you call so you know what to expect, and exactly how they can help you.

What can someone expect to happen when they call the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline?

When a person requests a confidential appointment, our client services team will conduct a five-point initial triage to ensure their needs are best met. This involves:

  • Collecting some brief details about you (name, date of birth, contact information, your usual role in the arts industry and how they were referred to the service) to verify eligibility and enable registration.
  • Identifying whether you have any special requests (e.g. needing manager support, financial counselling, or anything else).
  • Obtaining preferences for your clinician’s gender identity, languages, background, and/or areas of specialisation/experience.
  • Deciding on a time for an appointment, or whether you need to speak with an on-call Clinical Professional immediately.
  • Confirming your appointment, time, date, and the name of your clinician.

What would you say to someone who thinks, “I don’t know if my problem is big enough or bad enough to call…I don’t want to waste the clinician’s time”?

I would recommend that any conversation with the Wellbeing Helpline is a good conversation. Whether it’s just that you’re feeling a bit anxious or you can’t get motivated, there is no issue too big or too small!

Is someone still allowed to call if they’re not currently working in the arts industry?

This is the nature of the industry – it’s the gig economy. Sometimes we’re working and sometimes we’re not. But, at all of those times we are a member of the industry so can absolutely access the Wellbeing Helpline. Sometimes, it’s when we aren’t working that it is most important to access a service such as this. The best time to call is when you need to speak about anything, professional or personal.

What are some of the common themes people call the Wellbeing Helpline about?

By far and away the most common reason for people to call the Wellbeing Helpline is due to career concerns. This is followed by feelings of anxiety, then signs and symptoms of depression, and personal issues.

However we’ve had people call for more than 40 different types of concerns, so the concerns are as varied as the callers, which is exactly how the service should work. We are here to support you with whatever difficulties life is throwing at you.

Have you found you get a broad cross section of the arts community calling?

Yes! So far, we have had calls from people representing more than 50 different roles in the arts community.

How has COVID-19 impacted the amount of calls?

When COVID-19 first hit, we saw a slight drop in the amount of calls that we were receiving, as people were managing the practical elements of their life (finances, bills, accommodation).

As soon as these initial concerns had been addressed in some way, the calls increased, with people seeking support for issues such as loss of work, career concerns, financial concerns, isolation, anxiety and depression. This response has been the same for many of our clients, not just the Wellbeing Helpline.

However, it is clear that the arts industries were the first to feel the impact and have been affected more than most other industries. Just remember that we are here for you – the 1800 959 500 number is answered at all times 24/7, 365 days per year.

Read more about the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline.

This article appeared in Spotlight, the Arts Wellbeing Collective magazine: