The Big Anxiety Resource page does not promote or exclusively favour any of the listed resources, but we provide them as potentially helpful resources for the community.
If you have questions about these resources please email us, or the organisation direct where possible.
Support at Festival Events – Don’t Rush Home!
During the festival you may encounter artworks, experiences or events that give rise to emotions, thoughts or feelings that need to be worked through or discussed. We encourage everyone to take time to review and process these experiences for your own wellbeing.
‘Don’t Rush Home’
‘Don’t Rush Home’ is a concept adapted from First Fortnight, a festival in Ireland that uses arts and culture to challenge mental health stigma while supporting vulnerable people through creative therapies.
The idea is that no one should leave the festival feeling upset, distressed, concerned or confused. We hope that visitors have positive and beneficial experiences but we recognise that complex material or feelings need processing – and very often an experience is enhanced by discussion.‘Don’t Rush Home’ is an informal invitation to share your experience, chat to our volunteers or seek out Big Anxiety staff for further engagement. We make an effort to recruit and deploy volunteers at our main events/exhibitions for this purpose.
Don’t hesitate to make contact – and if you can’t find a volunteer, venues should be able to connect you with our staff by providing you with . The festival director and curator are keen to connect with you if you’d like to talk.
We take seriously our duty of care to all those participating in the festival. The procedure below, developed in consultation with our Mental Health Lead and advising clinicians, sets out the formal process visitors, staff and volunteers should follow if they are in distress, wish to process experience or are simply wanting to chat.
Note ‘Staff’ refers to all artists, academics, creatives etc. contracted by The Big Anxiety festival 2019.
If the festival raises issues that need discussion and you do NOT need immediate specialist assistance
- Talk to one of our friendly volunteers, wearing the pink Big Anxiety t-shirts, or staff before you
- If no volunteer is present, ask venue staff to connect you to festival staff. You do not need to be in distress or making a complaint to do this. The “Don’t Rush Home” guide means that you’re welcome to ask for a chat any time!
If immediate assistance IS required
- Talk to a Volunteer / Staff member. If you can’t see a volunteer or staff member, see Front of House at all venues for a number to speak to a staff member.
- Volunteers/staff will (where appropriate) provide you with a contact for a 24/7 counselling service; take you to a quiet space and/or seek further professional support. In some cases, we will have professionals on site, such as counsellors, volunteering psychiatrists or members of our mental health clinical advisory group. Volunteers can direct you to these professionals or help you find other support.
- If you are in crisis, a volunteer will direct you to a member of staff who will walk you to the nearest ED (at our main location, UNSW Art & Design, this is St Vincents Hospital) or take you to a General Practitioner nearby, or if necessary call 000. NOTE: Volunteers are provided with information about the nearest GP or ED facilities for each of our venues in their Volunteer Manual.
- Leave written feedback via the feedback form available at the venue front desk or from volunteers. NOTE: this form is for feedback requiring attention. It is not an event survey. Feedback is followed up by The Big Anxiety staff in all instances and if necessary, referred to our mental health clinical advisory group.
- Contact the Volunteer Coordinator or Venue Manager for the event to chat to them about your experience and debrief in a quiet area.
- If you need further assistance, contact festival staff and/or the Festival Director, who can in turn liaise with our Mental Health Clinical Advisory Group. If necessary, the festival director (Professor Jill Bennett, UNSW) and/or Mental Health Lead (Professor Katherine Boydell, Black Dog Institute) can be reached by mobile phone. Do not hesitate to make contact with them if a serious situation arises.
If immediate assistance is required
- Call the Volunteer Coordinator or Venue Manager
- If you are unable to reach the Volunteer Coordinator or Venue Manager, dial one of the 24/7 counselling numbers provided on your lanyard.
- If you wish to speak to a staff member/the Director or senior supervisor, see the numbers provided at Front of House at all venues.
- Leave written feedback via our feedback form, which will be forwarded to the Festival Director for fast response.
- Reach out to a fellow staff member or Volunteer to talk in a quiet space
- If you need further assistance, contact a Senior Supervisor and/or the Festival Director, who can in turn liaise with our Mental Health Clinical Advisory Group if necessary.
- As UNSW staff you have access to the UNSW EAP (Benestar) program for free counselling sessions.
- Alternatively, call the Wellbeing Helpline for creatives and performers, available 24/7 on 1800 959 500
If immediate assistance is required
- Dial one of the 24/7 counselling numbers provided.
- If you are in crisis or distress reach out to a fellow staff member who will take you to the nearest GP or ED, and /or call 000.
24/7 Counselling Service Contact Numbers
13 11 14
24/7 Phone Counselling for Crisis Support and Suicide Prevention
Suicide Call Back Service
1300 659 467
24/7 Phone and Online Counselling to people who are affected by suicide
1300 22 4636
24/7 Phone and Online Counselling
Beyond Blue provides information and support.
NSW Mental Health Access Line
Provides 24/7 access to the mental health services across the state, directing callers to the mental health intake service based on the location of the caller.
Feedback Review Process
After hard-copy feedback is received via the Feedback Form it will undergo internal review in the first instance by;
The Big Anxiety allocated Venue Manager for the event/program and/or Volunteer Coordinator
The Festival Director and Mental Health Lead
The festival director and mental health lead may in turn seek advice from members of Mental Health Clinical Advisory Group;
Dr Stefanie Orlik, Psychiatry Registrar and festival volunteer
Dr Mark Cross, psychiatrist, Northside Group and festival presenter
Dr/Prof Alan Rosen, psychiatrist and former mental health commissioner
Dr Julia Lappin, psychiatrist, Bondi Clinic
Dr John Lam-Po-Tang, psychiatrist, Red Tree
Dr Michaela Davies, Clinical Psychologist at East Sydney Doctors (with special responsibility for Edge of the Present project).
The Big Anxiety Survey
The survey is designed to allow you to think through your response and experiences of our events and programs. A hardcopy survey is available at our venues and events, as well as on our website. You are also welcome to Note that for feedback requiring response or immediate action you should use the Feedback Forms at venues and not the survey.
If feedback cannot be resolved through the internal feedback process, it will be referred to the UNSW Complaint Management Policy and guidelines. Please refer to the following documents.
UNSW Complaint Management Policy
UNSW Complaint Management Procedure
The Big Anxiety 2019 Volunteer Coordinator, Ivana Jovanovic holds both Mental Health First Aid Certificate (Aug, 2019) and First Aid Certificate (Nov, 2018).
Academic articles on The Big Anxiety
Psychosocial aesthetics and the art of lived experience by Jill Bennett, Lynn Froggett, Lizzie Muller in Journal of Psychosocial Studies • vol 12 • nos 1-2 • 185–201 This article identifies the distinctive nature of arts-based psychosocial enquiry and practice in a public mental health context, focusing on two projects delivered as part of The Big Anxiety festival, in Sydney, Australia in 2017: ‘Awkward Conversations’, in which one-to-one conversations about anxiety and mental health were offered in experimental aesthetic formats; and ‘Parragirls Past, Present’, a reparative project, culminating in an immersive film production that explored the enduring effects of institutional abuse and trauma and the ways in which traumatic experiences can be refigured to transform their emotional resonance and meaning. Bringing an arts-based enquiry into lived experience into dialogue with psychosocial theory, this article examines the transformative potential of aesthetic transactions and facilitating environments, specifically with regard to understanding the imbrication of lived experience and social settings.
- Black Dog Institute
Fact sheets for consumers, families and careers mental illness. Anonymous validated screening tools for identifying depression and bipolar disorder.
An anonymous, confidential online support program shown in research trials to reduce the symptoms of moderate depression over 8 weeks of use; the tool tracks recovery and response to treatment as well as providing self-directed interventions.
1800 187 263
Factsheets on illnesses and treatments as well as a phone line for advice on local support groups and facilities.
- Man Therapy
For men wanting to check out their mental health and get advice on getting help.
- Mind Health Connect
Information and support for people with mental illnesses, their families and friends.
13 11 14
24-hour telephone counselling, information and referral service.
- Mensline Australia
1300 789 978
24-hour support for men dealing with family and relationship problems.
- Beyond Blue
1300 224 636
Information on depression, anxiety and related disorders, available treatments and where to get help.
- Carers Australia
1800 242 636
Family carer support and counselling.
- Relationships Australia
1300 364 277
Relationship support and counselling service for individuals, families and communities.
- Suicide Call Back service
1300 659 467
24-hour telephone counselling service for those at risk of suicide, carers of someone who is suicidal and those bereaved by suicide.
- Reach Out
Online youth mental health service. Expert generated mobile-friendly site and forums.
- Bite Back
BITE BACK developed by the Black Dog Institute is an online space for young people which promotes resilience.
- Kids Helpline
1800 551 800
‘We pride ourselves on shaking things up. We’re not like any other psychology practice or mental health organisation. We know that old methods need to change if we’re going to break the stigma of mental health, and we want to be that change.’
The Big Anxiety respects individual preferences for either ‘identity first’ language (eg. “I am an autistic artist/person”) or ‘person first’ language (“I am an artist/person with autism”).
We actively endorse the neurodiversity movement and the view that neurological difference reflects natural variation variation rather than deficit. As such we follow the lead of participating artists who use identity first language in relation to autism as a means of affirming and validating autistic experience. This position is outlined in the following articles:
However, with regard to mental health, we generally use person-first language and avoid the use of language that identifies a person with an illness, disorder or condition.
The Anxiety Issue of Artlink 
On Art and Anxiety: ‘We Are All Anxious Now’ Tate [Issue 39: Spring 2017]
Conversations about Suicide
Conversations Matter [Online]
Take the Black Dog Institute Anxiety Self Test.
“Getting Help” including clinics and self help tools visit Black Dog Institute website