Events inspire workplaces to address mental health crisis

Leading employers and wellbeing experts will explore how workplaces can address New Zealand’s poor mental health statistics next week.

Hosted by new wellbeing social enterprise Ignite Aotearoa, breakfast panel events in Auckland and Christchurch will provide a unique opportunity for public and private sector leaders to come together and share ideas on the future of workplace wellbeing.

Ignite Aotearoa Executive Director Nicola Coom says that wellbeing isn’t just an issue for politicians and the mental health sector to address.

“Businesses have a huge opportunity to improve the wellbeing of our nation, but in order to do this they need faster and more flexible options available to them. This is why Ignite Aotearoa is introducing new and innovative ways for employees to access wellbeing support and information, which will ultimately ease the strain on public health providers,” she says.

Opening the events is Barbara Disley, member of the 2018 government Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry Panel, previous Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, and current Chief Executive of large social services provider, Emerge Aotearoa. Coom will also speak, sharing her own experiences as an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and workplace wellbeing expert.

Construction sector Chief Executive, Chris Hughes of Switched On Group and Grant Pritchard, lawyer and voluntary mental health advocate at Spark, will share their personal experiences of the impacts of suicide on families and teams, plus examples of their innovative workplace initiatives.

Erik van den Top, international wellness and performance coach, and Bridgitte Baker a psychological health and safety professional will share insights on how workplaces can think creatively to deliver solutions for positive mental health and wellbeing outcomes.

Coom explains that the aim is to start a conversation and inspire more workplaces to do things differently by removing barriers, influencing how teams approach wellbeing, and connecting people to effective, evidence-based support and information.

“There are huge barriers to accessing support for many New Zealanders. 77% of suicides are committed by people not accessing support and we know that only three percent of Kiwi’s are accessing current models. We urgently need new approaches that challenge the status quo and aren’t an ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’. We need mental health and wellbeing solutions that are proactive, fast and easy to access, lower-cost, and provide choice and flexibility.”

Ignite Aotearoa launched in September with the backing of Emerge Aotearoa to respond to recent government mental health findings and continuing social service sector challenges. The business is changing how New Zealanders access wellbeing resources and support through strategy, education, research and an innovative online platform. Ignite Aotearoa also re-invests all profits to self-fund resources and support for struggling communities across New Zealand.