Offering a range of wellbeing services, ‘Ignite Aotearoa’ centres on an all-in-one online platform of curated health and wellbeing content. In the face of isolation, the site provided a free, early platform for essential services and organisations whose workers have been severely impacted by COVID-19. However, as the nation moves into Level Three, the platform will be rapidly evolving to adjust to helping all employees transition back into a new way of working, and the economic and psychosocial impact of the pandemic.

Ignite’s, Executive Director Nicola Coom, who has over 18 years’ experience in human resource and employee assistance programs said Kiwis need “fast, flexible and easy access to evidence-based advice and resources that cater to all aspects of our 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” said Coom.

The need for urgent improvements for better mental health and wellbeing outcomes for New Zealanders is one echoed by Emerge Aotearoa’s Group Chief Executive, Dr Barbara Disley who was also a member of the Mental Health Inquiry panel.

Disley said that “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”.

During its inception, Ignite chose Auckland based design and technology studio RUSH, to develop the technology, utilising a human-centered design approach to ensure a product with a user experience that is as impactful as possible. Terry Williams-Willcock, Creative Director at RUSH said this was achieved “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.”

On the platform, users can access a resource library full of carefully curated and socially relevant content. Most notably is the first release of the ‘LiveWell Sessions’, a series of evidence-based mental-health and wellbeing videos hosted by leading New Zealand health and wellbeing experts including Jacqui Maguire, Kylie Ryan and Nikki Hart.

The video content covers challenges such as isolation, job security, finance, productivity, parenting, and strategies to deal with them. The resource library also includes links to a wide range of websites, articles, videos, podcasts and practical tools to help employees strengthen their wellbeing across all areas of life.

Registered Clinical Psychologist Jacqui Maguire is a host of several videos available within the platform. Maguire said that, in reality, some of us will be better equipped for these current challenges than others who may find themselves facing a steep learning curve.

“As the globe continues to change at rapid pace, New Zealanders are continually required to readjust in quick response. Human agility relies on a number of factors including a safe environment, acceptance, social connection and robust physical heath. For all of us, adjustment will likely induce a level of stress, grief and opportunity, although we may need time and support to realise this”.

“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’s plans to digitise and modernise employee wellbeing support will continue over the coming years with their immediate challenge focused on supporting New Zealand’s workforce to live well through the challenges brought about by the pandemic – and beyond.

Next 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, 7 days a week from their devices.



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