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Technology the answer to stretched mental health services

With Statistics New Zealand research finding that nearly a quarter of Kiwis experience some level of poor mental wellbeing and with mental health services throughout New Zealand stretched, NZTech says it is great to see technology being used to help provide mental wellbeing support to more than 850,000 Kiwis.

A recently launched research report into small business wellbeing produced through a collaboration between the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and Xero found that most small business owners fail to realise that their team, and their business results, would benefit from the improved mental wellbeing of their staff.

“What was interesting to read was that every dollar spent on mental health will repay $3.50 in productivity gains, and that organisations that prioritise employee wellbeing outperform the industry average by 10 percent,” NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

“So not only is it the right thing to do at an individual or personal level, helping people with their mental wellbeing, it is also critical for our nation’s productivity and our businesses success.

“Yet every other day we hear in the news that mental health services are stretched beyond capacity, and the only solution anyone ever talks about is we need more health professionals.

“This makes what Xero is doing potentially one of the most important health interventions in modern history for New Zealand.

“Xero have announced that they are extending their employee assistance programme out to all of their customers, their customer’s employees and their employees’ family members, about 850,000 Kiwis.

“The Xero assistance programme (XAP) leverages technologies such as live chat, online counselling and app-based support, as well as face-to-face and telephone support.

“With hundreds of thousands of customers in New Zealand, Xero can see the positive impact that small changes in a business can make to its overall success, and if you extrapolate this across their entire customer base, to the success of New Zealand.

“Technology is now fast enough and mature enough in New Zealand that doctors can provide video base consultations, as SwiftMed in Christchurch is showing.

“There is a huge opportunity for New Zealand’s healthcare sector to leverage technology better to reduce some of the pressure on the healthcare professionals.

“New Zealand is actually really good at this with Kiwi organisations like Aranz Medical, HealthTRx, Volpara and Orion Health providing world leading health technologies to the world,” Muller says.

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