Samwell is creating a safe online space that supports Performance Artists to build strong relationships, help one another, and grow as individuals.

Without doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for people working in the Performing Arts. Yet even before the pandemic, the prevalence of mental health problems was considerably higher in the performing artist community than in the general population, with suicide rates well above the national average (Van den Eynde J, 2016). A recent survey of 219 performers found 92% and 80% of respondents either scoring in the medium or high range for anxiety and depression respectively. Notable responses included 27 (12%) who indicated suicidality (Samwell CIC, 2020).

In an industry that employs 300,000+, relevant wellbeing support is needed to help more people reach their potential, by supporting them at the earliest possible stage, and helping prepare and protect them as they navigate their careers.

Engagement Summary

Helen Jeffery has been an active member of the Performing Arts scene for many years and acutely aware of the struggles many performers face when it comes to mental health.

After the COVID-19 pandemic struck, she set up a Facebook Group for performers who were struggling. The group encouraged peer support and attracted 500+ members in the first 6 months.

Having researched and found very little mental wellbeing support that is tailored towards the lives of performance artists, she commissioned Connected Thought to run a survey to identify what the community needs. The findings included:

  1. Tailored support that reflects the experiences, emotions, and challenges faced by performers of different disciplines (e.g., actor’s versus comedians) and levels of experience (e.g., early career versus established).  
  2. More accessible peer support, both online and in-person.
  3. Relevant and practical guidance from a wider range of subject-matter experts beyond therapists, i.e., an Intimacy Co-ordinator talking on the do’s and don’ts of performing nude.


Helen has a vision to create a safe online space that provides on-going, lifelong support that guides individuals on their personal journey to maintaining positive mental health as an artist.

Connected Thought worked with Helen to turn her vision into a business model and three-year business plan. The model and plan focus on creating and growing a niche membership platform that offers access to relevant content (podcast, articles), events, online courses, forums, and more – all run by a team of performers with lived experience. 


The Samwell business model centres around a software platform that can, amongst other feature requirements, manage subscriptions, segment members by role, deliver timely and relevant content, automate & facilitate peer support, present online learning opportunities, and promote forthcoming events. 

Connected Thought designed and built a MVP in order for Helen to run a pilot.

Working with Connected Thought has meant I've not needed to worry about the potential costs and complexity of building and maintaining a suitable alternative. The partnership means I get access to all their fantastic support whilst the team and I focus 100% of our energy on delivering value and support to our members.
Helen Jeffery
Director Samwell CIC

The pilot began in July 2021 focusing on one member segment: female actors.  Connected Thought designed surveys to identify what topics the target audience would want the pilot to focus on, and Samwell ran a number of focus groups. The team supported Samwell to create a content plan for the first six months and have provided content production services and all of the branding and design work for the new platform.  

Connected Thought will provide ongoing support throughout the pilot phase, including content support and running periodic focus groups and surveys to access member insight and feedback. 

The current plan is to officially launch the platform in the Autumn 2021.