Coronavirus: Government releases apps to help support Kiwis' mental health

The Government has announced a range of apps to help Kiwis take care of their mental health during the COVID-19 crisis. 

It follows the launch of a new initiative last week providing support to people facing increasing uncertainty and stress amid the country's lockdown.

New Zealand is currently at alert level 4, meaning all non-essential businesses must close and people can only leave their homes for exercise or necessities such as visiting the supermarket or doctor.

The move to place the country in lockdown is intended to stem the spread of COVID-19 but has had an enormous impact on businesses, with thousands of Kiwis losing their jobs and facing economic hardship. 

"This is an incredibly tough time for many Kiwis, and we want people to know that they are not alone, and that there is support out there," says Health Minister Dr David Clark. "The tools released today sit alongside the range of Government support on offer."

The initiative includes the Mentemia app developed by former All Blacks Sir John Kirwan; a health journal app called Melon; and an e-therapy programme called Staying on Track.

"These three online tools give people practical ways to support their mental wellbeing and I would encourage anyone to take a look at them," said Dr Clark. 

The Mentemia app provides practical tips and techniques to help Kiwis take control of their mental wellbeing, while the Melon app provides a health journal, resources and self-awareness tools to help people manage their emotional wellbeing. The Melon app is also set to add additional resources in the coming weeks aimed specifically at supporting 13 to 24-year-olds.

Staying on Track sits within a wider online cognitive behavioural therapy tool called Just a Thought. It offers practical strategies to cope with the stress and disruption to everyday life caused by COVID-19.

Funding for the release of the apps comes from the Government's $500 million COVID-19 health response package.

Last week, the Government launched initiatives aimed at helping people manage stress caused by the pandemic, as well as a tool to help parents talk to their primary-school age children about their mental health and wellbeing.

"People will be responding to COVID-19 in different ways and the way we seek help and deal with our mental wellbeing is different for everyone," said Dr Clark. "Many support systems and services are still available through the lockdown, although they may need to be delivered via phone or video conference."