Perhaps you’ve heard, or perhaps not, but there’s a new social worker coordinating the services of the Musicians’ Assistance Program on the sixth floor. That’s me! I’d like to introduce myself to you and remind you of some of the help that’s available through the MAP office.
Who am I and how did I get here? I’m very happy to be working with performing artists because I was one myself for quite some time. Before becoming a social worker I was an actor and then an acting teacher. Once I decided to change careers I had to return to school to finish my B.A. (you were right, Mom!) and then earn a Master’s in Social Work.
For the last five years I worked as a clinical social worker in a program for people with serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders. This was a wonderful experience for me and I was constantly inspired by the remarkable changes people dealing with two such serious problems were able to make in their lives.
So what do I know about working with musicians, you may wonder. Not enough, I’m sure. I’m depending on Local 802 staff and members to teach me what I need to know.
However, the wonderful thing about a social work degree is that it teaches the skills needed to help with all kinds of life problems. My past experiences in the entertainment industry may be useful as well. After many years in the acting profession I know what it feels like to wait back stage and worry that I just might faint. I know the cold chill of a curt “thank you very much” after an audition. Then there’s that sick feeling as the end of the month approaches and there’s not enough money in the bank for rent. I also know what it feels like to stand on stage and feel such a deep sense of communion with the audience and my fellow performers that I can’t imagine anything more thrilling or satisfying.
So just what is this MAP program and what can it do for you anyway? The box on this page gives you the basics of our services but maybe a few specific examples would be helpful. Let’s say you’ve had a long dry spell, the bank account is empty and you just got an eviction notice. Or suppose your significant other seems angry all the time and the two of you just can’t seem to sort things out. Or maybe you’ve noticed that you’re showing up for work with a hangover more often than you’d like and people have commented that your playing isn’t quite as sharp. Come see me!
The life of a performing artist has stresses and joys that are unlike that of any other profession. While I may never have gotten past fifth grade piano lessons I do know quite a bit about the unique difficulties people in the creative arts can face. I am happy to have the opportunity to return to my roots and to help all of you in any way I can to keep doing what you do best.
Leslie Cardell, CSW, is the new MAP social worker. To schedule an appointment with her, call ext. 180. Kari Cameron is the social work intern until May.