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Digital platform ignites access to mental health support

With an increasing number of people facing long wait times to access mental health support, an innovative digital platform providing a fast response, funded by employers within workplaces, is delivering flexible access to support both in person and virtually.

Developed by Emerge Aotearoa, one of New Zealand’s largest non-government health and social service providers, the Ignite Aotearoa platform provides an important alternative to traditional ways of accessing psychosocial support through workplaces.

In the 18 months since it was launched, it has been used by 3000 people who have been able to quickly access qualified mental health practitioners, therapists, coaches and mentors across the country. Eighty per cent of users have said their wellbeing has improved following a support session.

Ignite Head of Delivery Gina Nonumalo says they have been blown away by the success of the platform, delivering an important avenue for people to access the services they need quickly.

“Instead of someone waiting up to several months for an appointment with a support provider or to get support through traditional mental health and addiction services, people can use Ignite to book an appointment at a time that suits them and with a provider they choose, no matter where they live in Aotearoa.”

“We have heard some great feedback. For example, one user told us that her GP had made a referral but it was going to take seven weeks for her to be seen. Within 48 hours, she had organised an appointment through Ignite. It has been incredible to make this sort of impact on people’s lives.”

Ignite was established following the 2018 Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry that found that current mental health support models were too restrictive, expensive and put intense pressure on the public health system. The World Health Organisation had also predicted that mental illness would be the leading cause of disability and absence in the workplace by 2030, if it wasn’t proactively addressed.

Ignite is currently offering services to workplaces, with employers purchasing subscriptions for their staff to use the platform. As soon as they login, they can access practical wellbeing resources, book confidential support sessions with professionals, and proactively manage their mental health and wellbeing using the online tools.

Ignite offers a full Employee Assistance Programme, regular wellbeing workshops, and a choice of subscription packages where workplaces can extend support sessions and provide access to the platform for their employees’ whanau.

“We know how inter-connected work and family life is to wellbeing,” Gina says. “We’re able to offer something holistic and flexible for the whole whanau, and we hope this can make a big difference in improving mental health and wellbeing outcomes in Aotearoa.”

“It’s becoming critical for employers to support the mental health of their teams, particularly as many people beginning to return to workplaces following the COVID-19 pandemic may be struggling with higher levels of burnout and anxiety.”

 

Article republished with permission from Ignite Aotearoa | ignite.org.nz