The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, producing strong and sometimes overwhelming emotions in adults and children.


Public health actions such as social distancing are necessary but can also entrench feelings of loneliness, sadness and worry. The resulting volume of people wanting to access mental health support during this time is staggering, but we should avoid pathologizing all presentations of depression or anxiety as mental illness. Irrespective of severity, national helpline services in our respective countries have played a pivotal role, providing people with much needed support and connecting them to crucial mental health and psycho-social support services.


In this eMHIC Special Interest Group webinar, phone and text helpline service leaders from the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK will share how their services are able to play a central role in supporting people experiencing various degrees of mental ill health or addiction.




Expert Panelists:


Andrew Slater


Global Leadership Council member, eMental Health International Collaborative


Andrew is a visionary change maker in New Zealand’s e-health landscape. He has been passionately committed to improving peoples’ wellbeing since the age of 15 when he started as a St John Ambulance cadet in rural Wairarapa, in the North Island. As Aotearoa New Zealand’s youngest CEO in the health sector, Andrew (38) solves heath issues by identifying solutions through both a traditional and innovative lens. Throughout his career he has been committed to changing the country’s health system from the inside out, and growing people so they can deliver better health outcomes. Andrew has been CEO of Whakarongorau Aotearoa (formerly Homecare Medical), a social enterprise providing national telehealth services, since its establishment in 2015. The organisation has grown exponentially in that time from 150 people to today’s workforce of 2,500. Collectively they help around 25,000 New Zealanders every day working in contact centres and from their homes with one single goal in mind; to give everyone in Aotearoa the opportunity for wellness. Andrew is dedicated to solving inequitable access to health care by creating partnerships in provincial and rural areas to support ethnic communities including Māori and Pasifika, empowering local organisations to provide solutions for their own communities. The cultural diversity and spirit of the organisation is embedded in its name.  Whakarongorau is an ancient Māori word meaning ‘to listen with great intent and purpose’. Andrew and his team live daily by this philosophy as they lead e-health transformation in Aotearoa. Wharongorau Aotearoa’s 24/7 services operate across seven digital channels including voice, webchat at text and are supported by clinical teams including more than 200 nurses, paramedics and specialists.


Mr Colin Seery


Chief Executive Officer, Lifeline Australia


Appointed March 2019 Mr Seery has held leadership positions in the health sector for more than 20 years. Previously Mr Seery was Chief Executive Officer of Healthdirect Australia and prior to that he held senior executive positions with the National Safety Council of Australia, the Hospital Benefits Association and Sano Consulting. Mr Seery has worked across a broad spectrum of health sector issues including governance, policy development, stakeholder engagement and advocacy. Mr Seery spent seven years in management positions at the Sydney Swans Football Club, where he was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2002.


Alisa Simon


Senior Vice President, Innovation and Chief Youth Officer, Kids Help Phone


Alisa is a champion of innovation with more than 20 years of experience.  Alisa is integral to the organization’s development of virtual health solutions for youth. She oversees the organization’s direct services, Innovation, data and knowledge translation work.  This includes providing leadership and guidance to more than 150 front line staff and over 2,000 volunteers to ensure that Kids Help Phone can meet young people where they are in an ever-changing world – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and remain at the very forefront of data-driven, technology-enabled e-mental health solutions. Alisa leads Kids Help Phone’s government relationships activities, working closely with provincial and federal government officials and stakeholders to advance the organization’s thought leadership initiatives.


Miss Victoria Hornby


Chief Executive Officer, Shout


Victoria is CEO of Mental Health Innovations. From 2011 to 2017, she was Director of Programmes at The Royal Foundation, building a portfolio of projects including the Invictus Games, Coach Core, United for Wildlife and Heads Together. Before joining the Foundation, Victoria was a Senior Executive at the Sainsbury Family Trusts and CEO of an international development charity. She began her career as Field Director of an aid agency, living and working in Eastern Europe for four years. Alongside her day jobs, Victoria is a Director of Social Finance, adviser to the Charles Dunstone Charitable Trust, and a trustee of the Westminster Foundation and the Bridges Impact Foundation’


Dena Trujillo


CEO, Crisis Text Line


Dena Trujillo, is CEO of Crisis Text Line, an organization that provides free, 24/7, high-quality text-based mental health support and crisis intervention. Crisis Text Line endeavors to build an empathetic world where nobody feels alone, and provides its service at scale by empowering a community of trained volunteers to support people in their moments of need. She has spent over 20 years operating at the intersection of nonprofit and for-profit — discovering, advising and amplifying models that maximize social impact, technology and business to scale innovative solutions. Prior to her leadership at Crisis Text Line, Dena was a Venture Partner at Omidyar Network and spent 17 years working across sectors ranging from education to economic development. She managed a global grant and investment portfolio of $150M+ specializing in technology platforms, marketplaces and talent networks that empower people, enable scale and contribute to system change.