Old Boy Matthew Johnstone was back at College on Tuesday 13 June. Now a bestselling author, illustrator and communicator, Matthew dedicates his life to promoting mindfulness, resilience, positive mental health and wellbeing. He talked to the whole school at assembly, then to several Year 10 classes, before giving a public presentation as part of our “Thought Leaders at College” programme.
Matthew worked with some of the biggest names in advertising in Sydney, San Francisco and New York, before he had to face up to and face down the severe depression that had dogged him for years. What he learned during his recovery forms the basis of his work today.
Matthew’s first book, I Had a Black Dog (2005), is about his journey through depression and the changes he had to make to recover his equilibrium. The response to that illuminating, profound and thought-provoking picture book proved a significant turning point in his life. Since then he has written and illustrated several more bestselling books, including Living With a Black Dog (2008), The Alphabet of the Human Heart (2009), Quiet the Mind (2012), and The Big Little Book of Resilience (2015).
Using the humble raisin, Matthew introduced the Year 10 boys to the concept of mindfulness – and hopefully enhanced their enjoyment of a very small snack. He also taught them some deep breathing exercises and reminded them of the importance of positive relationships, daily exercise, good food and plenty of sleep.