At a time when many Australians are experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety due to COVID-19, leading life and health insurer AIA Australia is stepping up to make a new mental health mobile app available for free to all Australians.
Mentemia, the brainchild of New Zealand All Blacks legend and mental health advocate Sir John Kirwan, has been developed as an engaging, easy-to-use app that turns medically-proven techniques into practical tips that help users take control of their everyday mental wellbeing.
Originally developed as a mobile app to help tackle stress and anxiety in the workplace, the free version of Mentemia has been specially adapted to help Australians through the COVID-19 pandemic. “Mental health is different for everyone” explains Sir John, whose own experience with depression during his rugby-playing career helped inspire the idea for the app. “In times like these it’s perfectly normal to be feeling a bit anxious. Our goal is to provide people with the tools that will help them get a little bit better every day. Mentemia is about you finding you.”
Big gains through small steps
Where the focus of many mental health services is on dealing with the symptoms of mental ill-health once they have already become pronounced, Mentemia uses tools that encourage users to develop a more holistic understanding of their mental wellbeing and discover the small changes they can make to stay well when things get difficult.
The app’s evidenced-based tools include a Mood Tracker, which helps users identify factors that affect their mood; a Breathing Tool, which outlines breathing techniques to cope in stressful situations; and a Worry Map feature, which helps turn ruminating thoughts into an action plan. It’s all presented in easy, bite-sized chunks, distilling complex ideas into information and advice that can be easily understood and applied.
In addition, Mentemia also outlines common signs of stress and anxiety to look out for in loved ones and offers ways you may be able to help them get support.
Extending a helping hand across the ditch
After the New Zealand Government selected Mentemia for inclusion in its COVID-19 response package, Sir John began looking across the Tasman to see if he could attract some backing to launch the app in Australia.
He soon found a willing and natural partner in AIA Australia. With one in five Australians experiencing a mental illness in any one year, and almost half experiencing a mental health condition at some point in their life, AIA Australia has increased its focus on mental wellbeing in recent years as a key part of its commitment to helping Australians live healthier, longer, better lives.
“The year-on-year increase in the number of claims we receive for mental health reflects wider concerns for the mental wellbeing of all Australians” says Damien Mu, CEO and Managing Director of AIA Australia and New Zealand. “Our dream is to champion Australia and New Zealand to be the healthiest nations in the world. In order for people to live healthier, longer, better lives, it’s important they feel they have resources and support to help them manage their mental wellbeing, particularly in times of crisis. That’s why we’re extending the benefits of this app to all Australians. We want to be doing whatever we can to help people improve their mental health earlier on and more effectively.”
Mentemia’s approach to helping individuals improve their mental wellbeing aligns with that of AIA Vitality, a science-backed health and wellbeing program that encourages its members to lead healthier lives by offering them the opportunity to enjoy shopping rewards and other benefits by hitting fitness goals and undertaking health checks. The app’s exercises have even been incorporated into the AIA Vitality program for the next six months, meaning that AIA Vitality members can currently earn points by completing activities.
For Mentemia and AIA Vitality alike, the aim is to show that achieving greater health, whether mental or physical, doesn’t have to be daunting, expensive or time-consuming. It can simply be a matter of completing small, everyday actions that add up to big changes over time.
AIA Australia has provided funding to allow Mentemia to be available for free for all Australians for the next six months. No user data will be shared with AIA Australia, and the app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.
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