In this piece for The Spinoff, Graham Panther, a consultant in Australia’s mental health system, speaks to some of the shortcomings of mainstream mental health support. He introduces a new project he is starting, The Big Feels Club, on online peer support network.
“What many people don’t realise is there isn’t just one way of talking about crisis and distress. There’s certainly one dominant way: the diagnostic model, in which doctor knows best. But there are a hundred other ways of making sense of bewildering, distressing experiences. Existential therapy, Intentional Peer Support, humanistic psychology, you name it. Many of them are much more optimistic about the value of human distress as part of a good life. I didn’t know about any of these for years, and I didn’t learn about them from the mental health system, I learned about them from other people going through it.
That’s why I want to make it much easier for people to find their tribe. I want people to have access to more ways of thinking about their big, uncomfortable feelings, so they can find what works for them. I want to create a resource that I’d actually want to use!”