Restrictions introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic happened quickly in Australia and they hit hard, exacting a severe toll on the entire arts and entertainment industry, from the major arts companies to freelance artists.

Mental health among entertainment workers was already fragile compared to the general population. A 2016 report from Entertainment Assist and Victoria Universityfound that suicide attempts were more than double, while members of road crews contemplated suicide almost nine times more than the general population during the previous year. Moderate to severe anxiety was found to be 10 times higher among entertainment workers, while symptoms of depression were five times higher.

Unsurprisingly, the number of people visiting the website of the Arts Wellbeing Collective – an Arts Centre Melbourne initiative promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the performing arts sector – has soared during the COVID-19 crisis.

Photograph © John Gollings

Since the Arts Wellbeing Collective (AWC) was officially launched in 2018, after research in 2016 and a pilot program in 2017, it has seen two big spikes in visitation: the first in July 2019 when its 24/7 phone Helpline was introduced, and the...