Kiwi health psychology specialist, Emily McRae, has devised online programmes for managing mental health and general health issues, like stress and anxiety, which will bring affordable professional help to thousands of New Zealanders.

“New Zealand is facing a mental health crisis and people need to get fast affordable professional help,’ says McRae, an Auckland-based Health Psychology Specialist, and the mother of three.

McRae’s company ‘the well hub’ has just released the first in a series of online guides to provide people with instant, accessible and affordable self-help.

“Anxiety and depression disorders”, says McRae, “are the second overall leading cause of ‘health loss’ for New Zealanders following coronary heart disease; however, when stratified by gender, they were the top cause for females.”

1 in 6 Kiwi adults have been actually diagnosed with a common mental disorder; thousands more with these disorders remain undiagnosed. More than 200,000 Kiwis have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

McRae says, “our public health services are not equipped for the demand for the much-needed support required across the country.”

This month the well hub released its first six guides which provide programmes for addressing anxiety, stress management, nutrition, and sleep issues. Issues which are commonplace for all New Zealanders.

“In the pipeline are guides for low mood, goal setting, exercise, and coping with motherhood,” says McRae. “You can get everything online today and the well hub’s guides fit in with our modern lifestyles,” she says, “and crucially they are affordable and accessible.”

To address the rapid growth of people requiring mental health services, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on 23 January 2018 a ministerial inquiry into mental health and addiction services. The Prime Minister acknowledged the increasing need for mental health services, by recognising that mental health is an issue for all New Zealanders.

“Our Well Hub guides are instantly accessible, affordable, are evidence-based. Due to the private nature of seeking help reduces any stigma. They are also highly responsive to community need,” says McRae. “Importantly, they mean people can get access to help when they first notice distress, rather than the typical ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”.

“The Prime Minister says we need fresh thinking around how we can make our care, support and other resources more accessible, effective and responsive to community need. This”, says McRae, “is exactly what the well hub is providing.”

Emily McRae, Health Psychology Specialist

Emily’s love of psychology was ignited when she began her studies in psychology in 2006. From here she went on to do post graduate education at the University of Auckland to become a clinical Health Psychologist. Across her University career Emily was consistently the top student in her year.
In 2010 Emily completed her MSc. Emily looked at how to best prepare patients for radiotherapy. In particular, what type of information works best, when, and for whom. Whilst studying for her MSc, Emily also taught stage one students on health psychology and health behaviour change at the University of Auckland.

During her clinical training Emily worked as an intern Health Psychologist within the hospital setting and provided psychological support for people across the three illness groups of rheumatology, pulmonary and cardiology. Emily then spent time working in private practice helping provide psychological support and therapies for anxiety, depression, stress and general mood management.

From here, Emily began working as a health psychology specialist and helped to develop and implement patient support programmes. This work eventually saw her shift to London and here she continued to develop and initiate programmes designed to help patients manage their long-term conditions. During her time in London, Emily became pregnant with her first child so moved home to New Zealand to be closer to family. Her first child, Archie, was born in January 2015. As a Mum, Emily continued to do contract work and developed a health coaching programme & app for patients with long-term conditions. She helped to design how the programme should work, what behaviours it should help patients focus on and change, and how they could be best supported to do this. This included formulating the role of a health coach and how health coaches could be hired and trained.

In November 2016, Emily gave birth to her twins – Eli & Sienna. Having three children under two, as imaginable, was life changing. When Eli & Sienna turned one, Emily resumed work on health coaching. Her current role is to hire, train and support the health coaches using the app/programme and for general research and development in health psychology.

Emily’s varied and comprehensive decade of experience in general psychology, health psychology, behaviour change, health coaching and creating online programmes puts her in the best position to be leading the well hub. As our lead Health Psychology Specialist, Emily has used this experience, on-going research, and her experience as Mum to three small children to carefully create packages designed to improve wellbeing.

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