More Kiwis helping their loved ones through times of mental distress are now able to receive crucial support themselves, thanks to a digital wellbeing assistant providing reliable, clinically developed advice around the clock.
The "intelligent" digital assistant is an extension of mental health support services already offered by Auckland-based company Clearhead and was made possible with a TSB Good Stuff grant.
Founded by Dr Angela Lim and Michael Connolly in 2018, Clearhead is an online platform aiming to make it easier for New Zealanders to get the help they need when they need it.
Dr Lim says the company was inspired by a desire to "democratise" access to tested mental health support.
"Clearhead was an opportunity for us to be able to make an impact on the things we cared about," she says.
Although the platform's primary focus is on supporting those who are themselves experiencing mental distress, Dr Lim says early on they realised there was also a need to provide assistance for people supporting others in times of crisis.
Unfortunately, adding that extra layer of service was initially out of Clearhead's reach due to the cost and resources required to set it up.
That all changed last year, however, when the company was named as one of nine recipients of a TSB Good Stuff grant.
The grant comes from a $200,000 kickstarter fund offered by the New Zealand-owned bank aiming to support Kiwis to make a difference in their community. Businesses or individuals striving to make a positive and meaningful impact have the chance to receive up to $30,000 to help them bring their vision to life.
Dr Lim says for Clearhead the $30,000 grant TSB gave them meant the company could extend its support network to more Kiwis much earlier than otherwise would have been possible. "The TSB grant gave us the ability to develop content for those who are supporting people who are distressed," she says.
"It allowed us to put in place a support system much earlier and focus on people who are wanting to support others, rather than themselves needing help."
The result was the creation of an "intelligent" digital wellbeing assistant offering information for both those suffering mental distress themselves and those acting in a support role.
"The idea is most people when they don't know something, they go online and they Google it, and Google isn't very helpful. So what we've done is built something that's more clinically developed and evidence-based, so it allows the individual to go online in a safe space and figure out what the issue is - and then get the help that's available."
The digital wellbeing assistant means many people who might hesitate or shy away from picking up a phone or seeking professional help face-to-face end up reaching out, says Dr Lim.
"People are able to have a safe space in which they can figure out what help they need much earlier, rather than waiting until they're really in crisis mode," she says.
This year, TSB will once again be giving Kiwi organisations a helping hand to bring their ideas to life.
TSB CEO Donna Cooper says the bank was overwhelmed with thousands of fantastic applications last year and the team is already looking forward to finding out what great ideas are out there in 2021.
"New Zealand has always been a country of inspiring innovators who drive positive change, now TSB’s here to give people with big ideas a helping hand for their ideas to take flight," she says.
"Innovative ideas make a real difference in our communities and as a bank owned by a philanthropic organisation, we exist to use our profit for purpose, so we’re proud to get behind people doing good for New Zealand.
"Now we just need to find these fantastic lightbulb moments so we can help turn them into a reality. So if you’ve got an idea that will help improve the lives of New Zealanders and provide meaningful employment opportunities, then TSB wants to hear from you.
"You can apply for a grant of up to $30,000 to help bring your idea to fruition and together we can make positive change to build a stronger New Zealand."
Applications for this year’s TSB Good Stuff grants are open until Sunday June 13, and those keen to apply need to submit a 60 second video pitch along with a written submission describing their idea, the problem it's attempting to solve and the benefits it will bring.
And Dr Lim's advice for applicants? "Be very clear about the problem you're solving and how you're doing it in a way that's unique from what is already available, in order to achieve different and better outcomes," she says.
Applications for the grants can be made here.
This article was created for TSB