The Arts Wellbeing Collective is an Arts Centre Melbourne initiative that brings together more than 400 arts and cultural organisations to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in the performing arts industry.
In 2016, research showed that symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety were 10 times more prevalent and suicide attempts were more than double for Australian entertainment industry workers compared to the general population. Risk factors specific to the industry, such as job security and concerns about stigma affecting future career opportunities, were identified as contributing to these statistics.
The following year, Arts Centre Melbourne launched the pilot of the Arts Wellbeing Collective. After a positive evaluation that found there was ‘a desire for the program to continue and expand’, the program was expanded through funding from WorkSafe Victoria’s WorkWelI Mental Health Improvement Fund.
The Collective works at three interconnected levels and aims to:
build knowledge and skills in individuals through the delivery of workshops, toolkits, resources and support, including a 24/7 helpline staffed by psychologists with specific, dedicated training in performing arts challenges
develop organisational capacity for improved wellbeing through consultancy and advice, how‑to guides and organisational psychological safety assessments
advocate for system‑level changes by engaging with important sector stakeholders, to embed positive industry‑wide change.
Arts Centre Melbourne wrote in its submission to the Commission:
The performing arts community needed little convincing of the importance of mental health, the need for early intervention and peer support, and the timeliness of addressing creative workplace practice. This is possibly due to the high prevalence of mental health problems … leading to a heightened understanding of the issue, and a drive to do something practical in this space.
Arts Centre Melbourne noted that ‘[e]very resource, workshop and initiative is assessed by experts, from clinical to organisational psychologists, and dietitians to mindfulness instructors’. All elements of the Collective are codesigned with performing arts practitioners, ensuring it is relevant to the industry, and are accessed free of charge.
Source: Arts Centre Melbourne, Submission to the RCVMHS, 28 March 2019; Arts Wellbeing Collective [accessed 9 November 2020]; WorkSafe, Mental Health Improvement Fund Round One Recipients