Stigma, time, cost and access … some of the many challenges to overcome in growing mental health crisis

Dr Matthew Zoeller & Pro surfer Layne Beachley

As NSW Health report an average of 50 deaths by suicide per year on the Central Coast and with many struggling with current lockdown restrictions, experts are urging people to look after their mental health.

A NSW Population Health Survey (SAPHaRI) taken from 2017-2019, of 1,633 residents aged 16 and over on the Central Coast found that 57.2 per cent of respondents reported low levels of psychological distress, 22.9 per cent reported moderate levels of psychological distress, 14.2 per cent reported high levels of psychological distress, and 5.7 per cent reported very high levels of psychological distress,

Since then the region has battled fires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health experts say the entire country is facing a mental health crisis, with reports of rising psychological distress among people facing, and previously free from, mental health issues.

The plea coincides with an article just published in MJA InSight+, reinforcing the critical need for innovative digital solutions to ensure every Australian has timely and affordable access to professional mental health support, no matter what their situation, location or socio-economic status.

Co-author, Intensive Care Specialist at Northern Beaches Hospital, and CEO and Founder of virtual mental health clinic, My Mirror, Dr Matthew Zoeller, said there are still many substantial barriers to overcome to enable Australians to gain access to professional mental health services.

“Despite the extensive work still underway to address the misconceptions surrounding mental health, the ongoing stigma associated with seeking and receiving mental health support poses a major obstacle for many Australians in psychological distress,” Zoeller said.

“However, stigma is just one of many challenges facing those affected.

“Time, cost and geographical location are also severely compromising access to mental health support.

“This is especially true for those living in regional and remote areas.

“It is therefore crucial that we identify an immediate solution to address this ongoing crisis and adapt our currently inadequate mental healthcare system.

“Innovative, ‘tele-tech’ models of care combine secure online platforms with next-generation videoconferencing technologies, to provide entirely virtual support.

“Improved uptake of these digital healthcare models is key to overcoming these barriers.”

Zoeller founded My Mirror – an Australian digital mental health clinic that strives to normalise the process of talking to a mental healthcare professional.

My Mirror is the professional psychology partner to pro surfer Layne Beachley’s Awake Academy – an Australian online portal comprising a series of wellness courses.

“As a mental wellness champion, I’ve had my share of mental health-related issues,” Beachley said.

“I’ve survived depression and serious injuries that formed part of the emotional roller-coaster that was my 19-year-long professional surfing career.

“Mental health care requires a holistic approach, including the development of a strong support

network, and professional psychological care.

“I’m partnering with My Mirror because it combines innovation with the professional expertise required to change the way Australians engage with psychological support.”

Chief Psychologist and co-Founder of My Mirror, and article co-author, Kate Blundell, said there is no one-size-fits-all approach to effectively managing mental health.

“Each person has a unique set of needs and circumstances, which may evolve over time,” she said.

“We must therefore be able to tailor mental health services to meet today’s societal and behavioural conditions.

“We recognise that our current environment has put growing pressures on face-to-face psychological services, resulting in increased waiting times.

“It is important to recognise the quality and access that the digital mental health space can now provide.”

To learn more about My Mirror, or to book a consultation with an accredited psychologist go to

Media release, Aug 18
My Mirror