Matthew Johnstone

Advocate for mental health & wellbeing, life/work balance and mindfulness

Matthew Johnstone is an accomplished author whose speaking career began after the release of his second book, Living with a Black Dog, was published in 2005 by Pan MacMillan Australia. An illustrated guide to what it is to live with the 'Black Dog' of depression and what can be learnt from it, it has since been published in over 20 countries.

Although this book deals with Matthew's battle in overcoming depression, his passion is to bring about a better understanding of mental health and wellbeing and he has now given talks all over Australia and the UK to schools, community groups, corporations, hospitals and places of industry. His talks are an inspiring odyssey of hope, resilience, acceptance, the path to happiness and what can be learnt from coming through adversity.

Matthew has many different talks for different needs and groups and he is just as happy talking to teenagers as he is to the Reserve Bank. There are no graphs or pie charts; his is purely a visual (illustrated by Matthew), inspiring and often humorous journey. He has also been the keynote speaker at various fundraising events and workshops.

No matter who his audience is, Matthew wants them to leave inspired to:

  • Communicate more openly and effectively, both at home and work
  • Strive towards living more authentically 
  • Be more mindful and present
  • Be inspired to create more purpose in their lives 
  • Be motivated to work towards what makes them genuinely happy
  • Understand that good can come from bad if we're open to learning from the experience.
  • Matthew's clients have included NRL, BHP, Commonwealth Bank, NIB, UNICEF, Queensland Police, Port Waratah Coal Services, The Reserve Bank, Eli Lilly, Investec Bank, The Australian Young Lawyers Association, Broken Hill Writers Festival, The Black Dog Institute Gala Dinner, AGL, Cricket Australia and UNSW Alumni as well as The Royal Institute of the Arts, The Priory Hospital, The School of Life and Lifeline.

    Before the success of his speaking career, Matthew spent 15 years as an award-winning creative in advertising, working in Sydney, San Francisco and New York. As an author, illustrator and photographer, Matthew Johnstone has written and illustrated several books, five of which have been best sellers in Australia and the UK. The Alphabet of the Human Heart -The illustrated A to Z on what it is to be human, made number 4 for UK book sales in January 2011 and #9 on the Sunday Times Bestseller List and in March/April 2012 Quiet the Mind reached #1 in the UK.

    Matthew's books and talks reflect his belief that the majority of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety don't need to happen. Good mental health is relevant to everyone everywhere and if we can spot the early warning signs, learn the skills on how to communicate effectively, find ways to seek help without fear or consequence and most importantly learn about resilience and how good can come from bad, then we're half way there.

    Client testimonials

    The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. Matthew’s presentation is personal, entertaining and informative and his presenting style is very inclusive, I would highly recommend his presentation to any organisation.


    I have had ongoing feedback since your presentation from all sides of the office about both the standard of the presentation and the deep-reaching content. New faces of openness and freer spirits, new conversations with unpractised confidence in the workplace are a noticeable consequence of the detail and honesty of your research and experience.

    Investec Conference organiser

    Matthew was a hit. People listen to survivors. But Matthew’s presentation was more than a single survivor’s story — it was a guy’s story that had universality, told with humour and illustrated with fantastic graphics. Matthew’s presentation at our Seminar Series was the highlight of the programme, very well-rated on the evaluations … None of the written comments noted how funny his presentation was but that was what made it easy to listen to. The audience was often in whoops of laughter.

    Blacktown City Mental Health

    Having attended many staff development presentations over the last 15 years I would rate Matthew’s presentation as one of the most engaging and relevant presentations. Matthew is an engaging and charismatic presenter – deriving not only from his personality and experience in presenting but also from an evident passion to educate people on the topic mental illness and importantly to seek out early intervention.

    The Scots College, Sydney

    What is unique and stand out about the way Matthew presents is that the entire presentation is illustrated; the images are poignant, often funny but get to the core of what is being discussed. He enlightens and informs with creative visuals and inspiring metaphors. This is the 2nd time Alumni have had Matthew speak; he comes with our highest recommendation.

    UNSW Foundation

    All of the participants in his workshop listened intently and gave great feedback. On the feedback surveys when asked "What part of the day have you most enjoyed?" on average most people wrote 'Matthew Johnstone keynote/workshop'. All of the staff that attended the keynote said how wonderful and inspiring he was.

    New Horizons

    Matthew talk inspired many staff attending. His talk took staff on a journey which they were able to relate to within their own lives.


    Matthew was received extremely well, his ability to tell his own personal story in an engaging way that de-mystified mental health and made it seem ‘almost normal’ was brilliant. People felt so comfortable they were sharing their own stories – that speaks volumes.

    City of Joondalup