Matthew Johnstone’s 2005 illustrated book, I Had a Black Dog, was converted into a PSA in collaboration with WHO to mark World Mental Health Day back in 2012. The more than 6 million views speaks to the widespread issue of depression and the importance of Matthew’s personal message.

Having a black dog in your life isn’t so much about feeling a bit down, sad, or blue. At it’s worst it’s about being devoid of feeling all together.

I realised that life is intrinsically short and that I’d been doing life, not living it due to having a significant unwanted companion trotting along beside me.  Depression had been in and out of my life since my late 20’s and I invested huge amounts of energy in covering it up. People warned me against creating such a book, that I would lose my job, responsibilities and even friends but I have to say that apart from marrying my wife and having my children; this was one of the best things I’d ever done with my life. Not only did it set me free but I began to live my life authentically. The biggest lesson in all this for me was helping others is one of the greatest ways we can help ourselves.

Matthew learned not to be afraid of the black dog and shares some habits to help tame the beast.

  • Be emotionally authentic to those close to you
  • Seek professional counseling
  • Learn to quiet your mind
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep a mood and gratitude journal