Approximately 1.25 million people in New Zealand need mental wellbeing support every year. Less than half of them are supported by public health services and registered counsellors, leaving just over 800, 000 without support. Ember Innovations is on a mission to bridge this gap.
Ember Innovations is a group company of Ember Korowai Takitini (Ember) one of the larger NZ NGO’s focused on supporting Kiwis facing mental health and addiction challenges. Recognising that New Zealand needs more effective mental wellbeing solutions to complement its public services Ember Innovations catalyses innovators, talented people, companies, funders, researchers, and citizens to solve pressing mental wellbeing problems.
It has spent much of the early part of 2023 preparing an initiative that will specifically address the mental health needs of New Zealand’s youth, as defined and identified by young people through a research programme led by Ember Innovations in partnership with NZ youth focused organisations Paihere Charitable Trust and Managed Moves.
Challenging Youth Mental Distress
Ember Innovations, Managed Moves and the Paihere Charitable Trust are working with communities across the North Auckland region to explore how to work together to create transformative change that supports the mental health and wellbeing of young people. They’ve been listening to and working with young people, families and other trusted adults who work with young people to understand where the opportunities are to amplify and build on what is already working, as well as to remove those things which are getting in the way.
As a result of this discovery process Ember Innovations has incepted a challenge format initiative designed to bring together innovators with ideas in incubation and match them to an infrastructure of supporters, that can provide mentoring and resources. Ideas will then be developed and showcased for funding.
The process has three phases. The first, learning and discovery phase is complete. The second, and inaugural showcase of ideas by innovators to supporters and investors is scheduled for August 2023. The third, the launch of at least one new fully developed and funded initiative is planned to begin from November of the same year.
Transformative change in youth wellbeing. The challenge approach
Challenge-led innovation (sometimes called ‘mission-oriented innovation’) is an approach that brings together diverse partners to collaborate around a specific opportunity, challenge or need.
Grounded in codesign, powered by partnership and drawing on elements of start-up acceleration. The approach taken by the team is designed to privilege the voices of young people, along with family and extended family and trusted adults to identify and address system gaps for transformative change in youth wellbeing.
Ember Innovations and team challenged New Zealand’s innovators and interested parties to submit their best ideas for consideration in a showcase that will take place at Orewa Arts Centre on Auckland’s North Shore on the 10th of August 2023.
Over 30 submissions were received, the top 10 as selected by a panel of assessors will attend the showcase to share what they’re working on, what they are seeking to achieve, and what support they need to help them get there. An audience of, investors, cross-sector supporters, community members, and others interested in the wellbeing of young people will attend to see what opportunities there might be for them to get involved and support the teams.
All ideas showcased will have one thing in common – they will each focus on:
Prevention and early intervention
Supporting young people to stay well, and supporting young people who are beginning to experience challenges with their mental health
Supporting the Supporters
Supporting the people who young people turn to when they are having a hard time so they can provide effective support to those young people and stay well themselves whilst doing so
Joining Things Up:
Removing the gaps through which young people fall. Making sure all young people are supported in a way that is meaningful to them, and when they need it.
The showcase will be one of the highlights of the mental health and innovations calendar in New Zealand and a large turnout is expected. The showcase will be hosted by Clarissa Chandrahasen an actor, writer, comedian and theatre-maker. She debuted her award-winning solo show ‘Committed’ at the NZ Fringe Festival in 2018, where she shared her story of her experience in the New Zealand mental health system. She works as a lived experience advisor in the mental health sector and as a mental health educator with trainee doctors, as well as performing regularly in the stand-up comedy scene.
The showcase is a unique opportunity to be part of a pioneering process that aims to make a significant positive impact on youth mental wellbeing.
It will be evening of networking , shared knowledge, and community collaboration.