Founder Wellbeing

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Getting an innovative new business up and running is no simple feat

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Finding the right support for you 

There are many pressures on startup founders which impact on wellbeing. According to research conducted by Horizon Research, 87% of respondents reported that being a startup founder can have a negative impact on their mental health. Read the report here.

Below you’ll find a range of services available to support founder wellbeing – some of these are funded by Callaghan Innovation. We encourage you to access the support that best fits your situation and preferences.

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Counselling support

If you would like professional support for your mental health and wellbeing, and you are a startup founder based in New Zealand, you can  access three free confidential counselling sessions, regardless of whether you are a Callaghan Innovation customer or not

The service is delivered by Benestar, a leading wellbeing and employee assistance programme provider in New Zealand. Callaghan Innovation will cover the cost and this service will operate on a trial basis until the end of 2023.

If you are a Xero Starter, Standard, Premium or Ultimate subscriber, you can access the same service through the Xero Assistance Programme (XAP) which is also available to your employees and family members. Find out if you’re eligible and how to access XAP here.

Book an appointment with a Benestar counsellor

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Restorative consulting

If you have experienced or witnessed negative or inappropriate behaviour in the startup ecosystem (for example with support programmes, investors, advisors or mentors) you can talk it through confidentially with Aspen Restorative Consulting, a specialist independent service.

During the session, you can talk about your experience and receive specialist guidance and support in order to make decisions on any next steps, including accessing the informal resolution service. Callaghan Innovation will cover the cost and, if you wish, you will have the option to follow a tikanga approach. We created a Continuum of Harm with examples of what inappropriate behaviour might look like. 

Book an appointment with Aspen Restorative Consulting

You'll find answers to frequently asked questions about the above two services here.

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Urgent support

If you need to talk to someone urgently, there are a range of hotline services listed at In an emergency, always call the police on 111.

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More founder wellbeing resources

Code of Conduct is an open source template for anyone working with founders and startups to help better support founders and the people who work alongside them. All Callaghan Innovation’s Founder & Startup Support Programme providers have implemented a Code of Conduct which can be found on their websites and outlines what is deemed to be unacceptable behaviour.

Guide for Founders has been designed to give founders and their evolving teams a clear understanding of what good looks like and what constitutes unacceptable behaviour when engaging in the startup ecosystem.

Abroad is a three-month founder wellbeing programme funded in part by Callaghan Innovation and brought to New Zealand by Angel Association New Zealand. with a wide range of mental health and wellbeing support.

Brave in Business is an e-learning series to help the owners and operators of small firms improve their mental health and wellbeing.

First Steps is for business stakeholders, including owners, leaders, and employees, and has a list of qualified registered providers, wellbeing professionals and resources. 

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand has a wealth of resources that provide support and education.* is a network of therapists, counsellors, social workers, psychologists and life coaches in New Zealand. 

Watch the recorded webinar ‘How to improve entrepreneur mental health’ by Michael A. Freeman. 

Loffty* is an online platform that provides comprehensive, mental health self-assessment to help people understand and manage their mental health. They are offering free assessments to New Zealand-based startup founders. 

*Note that these services have not been specifically verified or endorsed by Callaghan Innovation.

Updated: 8 September 2023