The Future Of Mental Health In The Workplace?

A mental health platform co-founded by Sir John Kirwan received a boost last month, attracting a significant investment from the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC).

Mentemia describes itself as a digital platform designed to be a daily guide to improve one’s mental wellbeing. Upon registration, one is asked what parts of their lives they would like to improve. The options include sleep, stress, focus and relationships.

Significantly, it comes with a specialised workplace-focused companion platform. Employers can receive anonymised and aggregated data about how employees are spending time within the platform.

For Sir John -arguably New Zealand’s most prominent mental health advocate- the idea is simple: workplaces will operate more efficiently by ‘baking in’ mental wellbeing rather than by addressing issues as they arise. He backs this up with numbers. According to Mentemia, the cost to New Zealand employers of absentee and ‘presentee’ days are around $1,500 per employee per annum.

ACC’s investment in this platform suggests that it sees merit in Sir John’s approach. According to the New Zealand Herald, ACC paid $65.5 million for active work-related mental injury costs and $312m for mental injuries as a result of physical injuries in 2019/20.

The Health and Safety Act 2015 requires employers to provide employees with a workplace that is safe and healthy. Many employers do not walk-the-walk in terms of these obligations. They can be costly and inefficient. Digital and anonymous platforms such as Mentemia have the potential to revolutionise the way in which employers can address and assess mental health needs in their workplaces.

We are encouraged to see increased awareness on the issue of mental health and the workplace and are hopeful that this trend continues.