Nearly 20 years after being first to prove the value of using text messaging to improve patient care at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, the WelTel digital health platform is saving lives on the front lines of another kind of epidemic: the growing crisis in workplace mental health.
WelTel is proud to partner with the New Zealand-based Skills Consulting Group (SCG) to deliver workplace wellbeing support to their clients in the private and public sectors. In early 2022, SCG launched a pilot program providing wellbeing support to more than 11,000 apprentices in the construction trades using TextPulse, powered by the WelTel platform.
“Working with the Skills group opens up exciting and impactful opportunities for us,” says WelTel CEO Gabby Serafini. “The WelTel platform provides an effective and convenient way for all kinds of businesses to provide personalized employee support and prioritize mental health and resilience in their organization.”
Studies show that mental illness, anxiety and substance abuse often result in preventable and untimely death, while also costing tens of billions of dollars in lost productivity each year. Workplace mental health issues that were once swept under the rug have only gotten worse since the coronavirus pandemic, leaving people feeling more isolated and alone.
SCG runs apprenticeship programs for a number of trades including electrical, plumbing, roofing, scaffolding and crane operators. About a year ago, SCG approached WelTel looking for a simple, agile tool to help account managers connect with their clients. “The aim was to encourage apprentices to complete their qualifications, and to demonstrate the value of a full-scale, proactive wellbeing program in any workplace”, says SCG’s Jane Kennelly.
Since launching last January, TextPulse has shown how a two-way, text-based check-in system can provide a lifeline for people in distress. “The need for support is urgent, especially in the construction industry where young men, in particular, might be reluctant to ask for help. On average, New Zealand’s construction industry loses one person a week to suicide”, says Kennelly.
“During the COVID pandemic, it took 42 of our account managers three months to check in with 7,500 apprentices by telephone. That’s a huge amount of time and effort just to check in once. We knew there had to be a better way,” she says. “With TextPulse, we’re able to reach out automatically by text to over 11,000 apprentices enrolled in the program and ask, ‘How are you?’ instead of waiting for them to call and say ‘I need help.’”
User-friendly, secure, and confidential, the platform uses WelTel’s AI-powered algorithms to categorize incoming text responses according to the need for prioritized follow-up. Conversations are monitored by SCG’s Wellbeing Angels who respond through friendly text messages and referrals to appropriate information or services. The platform provides convenient access to support using any device, anytime, anywhere with no downloads, apps or internet connection required —at home, in the office, or on a building site or rooftop.
Since the launch, well over 200,000 text conversations have taken place and 74 cases of extreme urgency were identified, including people with suicide ideation.
“The system has helped us identify serious situations that needed urgent attention, and has even saved lives,” says Kennelly. “People are free to opt-in or out of the platform, but so far less than five per cent of our apprentices have unsubscribed, which is a testament to the program’s value.”
“More and more employers are recognizing the link between wellbeing and productivity, and they’re looking to invest in impactful and proven ways to support their employees. WelTel has the solution.”
Serafini aims to build on the success in New Zealand and has started introducing WelTel’s workplace wellbeing solution to businesses across North America and the rest of the world, saving lives one text message at a time.