Mental Health Technologies

Andy Ellis, of the Rotary Club of Port Nicholson, NZ, is responsible for running approximately 30 different government websites related to social harm and mental health issues and has taken a leadership role across several different health campaigns.

As an IT professional with real life experience of New Zealand’s mental health system, he brings his skill set of software development, marketing and digital technologies to help ease the strain on the current mental health system.

With a shortage of health professionals and long wait times for services, using technology can reduce demand and ease some of the pressure.

Andy is currently involved in a project called Small Steps (

Small Steps are digital tools developed by the National Public Health Service in Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand in partnership with Clearhead. The Small Steps website is a place where people of Aotearoa New Zealand can take small steps on their journey to improving wellbeing.

This free and interactive collection of micro-tools or micro-experiences is accessible on both smartphones and computers. The project was launched in April 2021 and while it doesn’t replace personal one on one connections, it does provide useful and practical options. The program has reached more than 200,000 New Zealanders since inception.

The platform has been developed in both Te Reo Maori and English and, in order to remove one of the barriers to access, a deal has been struck with all Telcos across New Zealand through the sponsored data initiative. In short, even if you don’t have credit in your phone plan, you have free access to the videos and tools.

Clearhead is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) providing mental health support for workplaces and individuals. The one-stop-shop online mental health platform has created a ‘Tinder for Psychologists’ – a system that has a large directory of psychologist and support workers with different specialities. People seeking help can book an appointment – sometimes that day – with a trained professional rather than waiting the seven to 10 weeks through the health system.

Another initiative includes training for leaders using technology to run facilitator-free two-hour workshops about dealing with stress and uncertainty and learning how to support your team and workmates who may be experiencing mental health struggles.

Andy’s team was also recently awarded a contract with Zespri New Zealand to contribute to its Circuit Breaker Day, when everyone in the organisation, across nine countries, stops work for the day to build understanding and capacity in identifying and managing mental health and resilience within their workforce.