The conversation around mental health and wellbeing has become a nationwide topic of discussion – and about time too.
New Zealand has been vastly under resourced when considering mental health and wellbeing support so the Wellbeing Budget 2019 investment into strengthening and improving frontline services is a welcome one. This will provide additional support for those with acute requirements as well as starting to move from an ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ scenario to an increased focus on preventative measures.
The newly announced measures are unlikely enough on their own to ‘solve’ our mental health crisis but the responsibility can’t rest solely on the New Zealand Government. As a nation, we all have a collective responsibility to lean in and help.
There has been a step change in the business world with more emphasis being placed on wellbeing and encouragingly, there seems to be an increased willingness to be vulnerable in the workplace. Described by Brene Brown as being the “core, the heart, the centre of meaningful human experiences” vulnerability is arguably the first step in removing the damage done by the era of ‘hardening up’ and leaving your ‘baggage’ at the door.
It’s not just individuals and company culture that benefits from an increased focus on wellbeing, it can have a direct economic impact. Productivity gains are often steeped in creating a culture of wellbeing and when you consider our small business sector – the engine room of our economy – any productivity gains they make will have a direct impact on GDP contribution and in turn, the success of NZ Inc.
At Xero, our focus is on looking at how we can support these small business owners, their employees and their families.
Four months ago we launched the Xero Assistance Programme (XAP) – a pilot programme that provides 5,000 Kiwis small businesses access to free, confidential counselling, whether that be face-to-face, via telephone or online. We estimate this programme has provided approximately 40,000 Kiwis across New Zealand with access to counselling support they wouldn’t previously had access to.
Following on from the launch of XAP, we are excited to announce that we are partnering with the Mental Health Foundation. Together, we will undertake a research project that will explore small business wellbeing, challenges faced and the tools and techniques currently being used.
It won’t be overnight that we see results from XAP and other Xero wellbeing initiatives, nor can the country expect to see immediate societal and economic changes because of a cash injection from the Government. But, we are absolutely heading in the right direction – both for Kiwi businesses and New Zealand as a whole.