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Kiwi firm ignites Aotearoa's mental health & wellbeing support

06 May 2020

As New Zealand moves through the various stages of lockdown, it’s not just physical health that Kiwis are doing their bit to protect; it’s also everyone’s mental health too.

Amongst the organisations highlighting mental health is Emerge Aotearoa. It is an established mental health provider that recently launched Ignite Aotearoa, a social enterprise created to help businesses support their employees’ mental health and wellbeing.

Ignite executive director Nicola Coom believes that Kiwis need fast, flexible, and easy access to mental health and wellbeing resources that cater to all aspects of life.

“Workforces in New Zealand currently have few options available to them outside of the traditional EAP for proactively supporting their staff’s wellbeing; we want to see that change and are offering an alternative; we have built a platform that brings everything together to make accessing support simpler,” says Coom.

Two years in the making, Ignite offers a free online platform of evidence-based health and wellbeing content.

Content includes a video series hosted by health and wellbeing experts Nikki Hart, Jacqui Maguire, and Kylie Ryan. They discuss topics such as finance, isolation, job security, parenting, and productivity.

“Right now, productivity, collaboration, creativity and innovation are essential. It is a time when it is most important to have leaders and employees who are resilient and agile. As businesses develop and redevelop strategies to outlast COVID-19, supporting mental health and wellbeing requires a feature spot,” says Maguire.

Ignite selected design studio RUSH to build the online platform using a ‘human-centred’ design approach.

RUSH creative director Terry Williams-Willcock explains that RUSH developed the platform “via interviews with health and wellbeing experts and through our lean-agile development approach, we were able to continuously learn how users are consuming the platform and its content.”

Emerge Aotearoa group chief executive Barbara Disley is on the Mental Health Inquiry Panel.

She says, “The outcomes of the recent Mental Health Inquiry are extremely relevant to workplaces. What we need to be doing is to support people to get access a whole lot earlier and to do that within a community context. The workplace is a really important community context and therefore is a place that can both support people to address mental health concerns early,” she says.

This month, the full platform will become available, including an online booking facility for virtual talk-therapy, a digital wellbeing self-assessment tool and more. Eventually, people will have access to health and wellbeing planning, support and therapy, seven days a week from their devices.