Where were you raised and what influenced your career?
In Valentine - my playground was the bush, beach and lake. It was a great community where I had a large family and felt safe. My parents both worked in the health sector and I observed my family nurturing people and the community.
Why did you choose to study psychology at UON?
My initial plan was to study law. At the time, at the University of Newcastle there was only a Bachelor of Administration Law degree but my school marks were not high enough for entry so I picked a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree to improve my prospects to transfer to law. Luckily my curiosity led me to pick psychology as I have a massive curiosity to understand people and it greatly suited my aptitude and personality and my values of helping people. I then studied hard during my Honours degree to qualify for entry into the Masters in Clinical Psychology.
What was your pathway?
Whilst doing my Masters I worked within the public mental health services. Later, my curiosity to learn and ambition led me to work in workers compensation rehabilitation industry, in private practices, the corporate Employee Assistance Counselling industry, then I rejoined Hunter New England Mental Health Services. I worked in the private and public sectors, helping children, adolescents and adults, and organisations.
In 2004 you started Life Matters Psychology. What was its business model?
Life Matters Psychologists was started with the amazing clinical psychologist Lynn Jenkins (my wife). We had a vision to create an innovative quality psychological service. We also wanted to have flexibility in our self-employment to be present in our childrens' lives. We started a family partnership, built a room inside an existing psychology practice, put up a brass shingled name plate and ordered business cards. We did not have administration support, employees or a detailed business strategy.
What have been major milestones since then?
The continual development, valuing and integration of a talented team of LifeMatters leaders, psychologists, administrative and marketing professionals who share, contribute to and support our values and vision for accessible professional psychological service excellence and innovation. We love our professional family and love meeting talented people who want to be part of nurturing people innovatively with great service. We love building community relationships and have delivered quality services to large organisations and communities stretching from Lake Macquarie to Forster. Our ability to help people has been supported by the Australian government providing Medicare rebates for psychological services and funding distributed through the local primary health network and the NDIS. Our evolvement has been supported by community mental health literacy promoted widely by organisations including Black Dog Institute and Beyond Blue. The internet has supported the distribution of mental health literacy information. We have also been aided by doctors and allied health practitioners as well as schools.
What impact has the pandemic had on clients?
It's had a stressful and disruptive impact on everyone's mental health and this continues. A significant stressor has been the impacts of social distance and disconnecting with others, financial stress, elevated uncertainty, job uncertainty, and reduced hope. People feel more helpless and vulnerable and have less social support and positive lifestyle opportunities to cope and maintain mental health. We've seen a massive influx of people seeking psychological assistance and we are determined and able to provide assistance to all ages in innovative ways.
We have seen a massive influx of people seeking psychological assistance.Matt Stanton
What will be the ongoing effect of the pandemic?
It will be multifaceted. Australia is already focused on strategies to protect itself and be far more self reliant and re-ignite strategic international relationships. Australian families are focused more on their financial security and the health of their families. The mental health impact from the bushfires and the pandemic has been immense, increasing the prevalence of anxiety and depression and aggravating the mental health of people with pre-existing mental health disorders and disabilities, and those with pandemic vulnerable medical conditions.
You have been a group facilitator for The Black Dog Institute, training psychologists in mental illness at work. What else do you do in the corporate space?
I design and implement EAP solutions for organisations, present workshops and consult to leaders to help them understand the business case, and design and implement mental wellbeing strategies in companies. I run online psychological resilience building webinars, connect organisations with customised psychometric recruitment Talent Management Solutions and provide leadership coaching and mentoring to leaders. I provide fitness for work assessments
Best bit about your job?
The opportunity to be creative to make a massive positive impact on people's mental health with talented people that share this passion.
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