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chnnl (pronounced channel), an app which anonymously tracks employee mental wellbeing, is helping healthcare providers across New Zealand provide psychological support for the mental wellbeing of their staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

chnnl’s founder and CEO, Dr Elizabeth Berryman, says organisations such as Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland District Health Board, Wellington Intensive Care Unit and St. John are all using chnnl to better understand how their staff are coping during this difficult time.

“All New Zealanders will face immense challenges over the coming weeks and months. This is particularly true for healthcare workers on the frontline who are constantly at risk of exposure to COVID-19. This is sure to bring more stress to environments which are already stressful at the best of times.

“chnnl helps employers understand worker sentiment so they can make changes to improve mental wellness and reduce anxiety during this time. However, we have not just seen healthcare professionals using the app, the retail and corporate sectors in both New Zealand and Australia have been quick to implement the app amongst staff.”

Chnnl’s data is anonymised, with employees completing a short check-in at the end of each day to evaluate their mental wellbeing.

Each employee completed a daily check -in and this is displayed on a real time Chnnl portal dashboard. Then each month the organisations received consolidated and anonymous reports about the overall sentiment from their teams. Alongside this data, the organisations receive advice on to address employee concerns and grow overall wellbeing.

Questions have been added specifically around COVID-19 to track employee sentiment on the virus, allowing employers to regularly monitor and react should any trends jump out.

“The content can also be changed in realtime. For example, should there be a patient death, a workshop about grief can be put in place and notifications installed on the app,” says Dr Berryman.

Dr Kate Tietjens, a consultant from Wellington’s Intensive Care Unit, says she hopes using chnnl has better prepare them to cope with the challenges COVID-19 is bringing to New Zealand.

“Traditionally, staff mental wellbeing has been a difficult area to measure and we hope chnnl will allow us to solve any issues as they come up. Ensuring our teams feel comfortable and equipped to work on the frontline and tackle what every day brings in the best possible headspace is a top priority.”

Berryman says we all know that the mental health of our staff is a vital part of a successful team and workplace but tracking and improving this has historically been too difficult.

“I have first hand experience of being bullied in the workplace and I know how difficult it was for me to perform at my best, let alone enjoy being at work. It invaded every aspect of my life, but I couldn’t find the right people in my organisation to take my issues to.

“So many New Zealanders will have experienced something similar, and extensive beta testing I know chnnl helps to eliminate bullying and increase overall wellbeing,” says Berryman.

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