Collaboration • Knowledge • Leadership
The Big Feels Club is promoting its industry-focussed podcast, Big Feels At Work, ahead of its third season. The podcast, featuring chats with workers about their experiences, aims to provide support for anyone working in the mental health and wellbeing or AOD sectors.
We talked to Big Feels co-founder Graham Panther about the podcast, its inspiration, and what he aims to achieve. Here's what he had to say.
Working in mental health and addictions is hard, especially when you have your own stuff going on.
It can feel like you’re walking in two worlds at once.
So many of us come to this work because it strikes a personal chord. But this ‘personal and professional’ mix can present some unique challenges — whether you’re a clinician, a policy wonk, a peer worker, or a CEO.
Big Feels At Work is a chance for people to hear from others walking this path, sharing what they’ve learned along the way.
One of our listeners, a psychologist, summed it up: "Big Feels At Work is an anti-guilt, anti-self doubt vaccine. It's like peer support for workers."
Why did we start Big Feels At Work?
In 2019, we noticed that about one in four members of our Big Feels Club community were people who themselves worked in mental health, addictions, or related areas. In other words, they were coming to us for support with their own stuff, while also working in the field supporting others. And they were in all kinds of roles: as clinicians, as managers, as CEOs. Many of them weren't 'out' at work about the fact they had their own lived experience. In fact, many of them told us that being more open about this stuff just wasn't a viable option in their workplace.
We put a survey out asking about what it's like working in this field when you have a foot in both camps. The response was huge — and eye-opening. We heard stories of people going to the ED in distress on the weekend, then fronting up to work on Monday and needing to pretend all was well. We heard stories of people too scared to access help because they were sure they were going to run into a colleague and have no idea what to say.
It was really clear we need to do more to support this section of the workforce. Because we need them! The Royal Commission was crystal clear about that — we need more people with lived experience working in this sector. They bring such a depth of understanding to their work. From what we can see, there's a whole lot of us already in there doing the hard yards, and we as a sector need to do much more to support them.
Big Feels At Work is one small part of that. It's been funded by the DH since 2019. The episodes feature a range of professionals with lived experience: we've talked to a psychologist about what it's like to have a breakdown at the very hospital she used to work at; we talk to CEOs about how they juggle the work with their own 'big feelings'. Listeners have told us it's 'like peer support for workers,' that it helps just to hear from others out there walking this same dual path.
Add your views with the Big Feels survey
We ran a survey back in 2019 when first starting the podcast, to get more data about what it was like out there for mental health and addictions professionals with a foot in both camps. We're running it again, to inform the development of the podcast. It helps us make more tailored content for Big Feels At Work, and it also helps us make a case for the bigger changes that are needed if we're truly going to make this sector a safe and attractive place to work for those of us who've been through it ourselves.
We want to hear about your experience no matter what your role — clinician, policy worker, manager, peer worker, whatever it is we want to hear about how you're going.
The survey's anonymous and quick. Take it here.
Big Feels At Work will feature a brand new season later this month. Check out past episodes and sign up for new ones by visiting the podcast webpage.