Helen Carscallen was born in Chengtu, Szechuan, West China in 1916. Her parents were educational missionaries. In 1956, Helen joined the staff of CBC's Public Affairs Department as a Program Organizer; this title was later changed to Executive Producer. She organized and edited a one-hour daily radio program called Trans-Canada Matinée.
In 1961-62, along with Helen James, she organized a conference on the status of women in Canada, called "The Real World of Women" held at the University of Toronto in September 1962. Subsequently she was asked to initiate and organize a daily national half-hour television program called Take Thirty.
In 1965, she returned to the University of Toronto for post graduate studies. Her M.A. Thesis, called "Social Control in a Broadcasting System", was a study of the clash between CBC management and the producers and staff of a weekly hour-long program called This Hour Has Seven Days.
In her later years, Carscallen pursued an independent acting career in film and theatre. She has at least 41 credits in films and was nominated Best Supporting Actress in the 1986 ACTRA Awards for her role in the CBC-TV drama The Other Kingdom.