News September 6, 2018

Support Act at BIGSOUND, Wellness Helpline a success: “It’s reassuring to see it’s being used”

Former Assistant Editor
Support Act at BIGSOUND, Wellness Helpline a success: “It’s reassuring to see it’s being used”

Last year, BIGSOUND hosted Support Act’s mental health summit; a meeting of the top industry minds to decide on a solution to the music industry’s rampant mental health issue.

Less than a year later the Support Act Wellness Helpline was launched.

In continuation of their work to provide resources and assistance to music workers experiencing mental health concerns, Support Act, Levi’s and AccessEAP ran a two-hour Managing Mental Health workshop as part of the conference.  

Run by Dorienne Spennato, AccessEAP’s clinical services manager, breaks were given throughout for tables to discuss topics and share stories.

She focused on identifying someone struggling with mental health, how to open that conversation and where to go from there, and the importance of identifying and learning to manage your own mental health.

“Since launching the helpline [three months] ago, we’ve had 30 people utilise the service,” Joanna Forman, Support Act’s communications manager told TMN after the workshop.

“The take-up so far has been brilliant, and we’re really happy with AccessEAP who bend over backwards to help. The fact that we’ve had 30 clients has been really positive… it’s reassuring to see it’s being used.”

AccessEAP (Employee Assistance Programs) have supplied the 50 specialised counsellors who man the support line 24/7. Music workers have access to six free, anonymous sessions with the same counsellor, and they’re able to utilise services such as Skype calls for those calling from overseas. 

Dale Eldridge, relationship manager at AccessEAP, worked with Support Act to set the helpline up.

“For us, it was something completely left of field, so we’ve had to work a lot to construct how we would actually do it, and the priority was to get it right for the music industry.”

“We used our internal counsellors… we wanted everyone providing the service to have read all the documents and have a really thorough understanding of what is going on in the industry,” added Spennato.

“We needed to make sure that they absolutely did understand the specific industry [concerns], you can’t just tell someone in the music industry to get enough sleep!” said Forman.

“AccessEAP absolutely get it – they get the pressures people are under, they understand the industry, and we briefed them really thoroughly on what kind of roles there are in the industry, what does that carry, what does that mean.”

Industry workers are accessing the helpline for a number of reasons, including depression and anxiety.

Spennato also referenced a number of industry-specific concerns of clients, including loneliness, career insecurity, inability to make decisions, creative disputes and conflict, relationship breakdowns, performance anxiety and stage fright, the difficulty of coping with fame, alcohol and substance abuse, homelessness and more.

In Australia, one million people suffer from depression, and two million from anxiety, with eight people passing each day by suicide. “Two years ago when we ran this workshop, it was seven Australians,” Spennato said.

In the music industry people are at higher risk; musicians are five times more likely to suffer from depression and ten times more likely to show symptoms of anxiety.”

You can contact the Support Act Wellness hotline on 1800 959 500.

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