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. 

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.

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 TELUS Health, 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 early 2024.

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. 

Select the option below that best describes your business to find out what counselling support you can access.

My business is a startup and I am a Xero subscriber.

The Xero Assistance Programme (XAP) offers Xero Starter, Standard, Premium or Ultimate subscribers, their employees and families access to three free, confidential counselling sessions with TELUS Health. Find out if you’re eligible and how to access XAP.

My business is a startup and I am not a Xero subscriber.

Note that we define a startup as an innovative and scalable business.

For New Zealand based startup founders that are not Xero subscribers, TELUS Health offers three free confidential sessions with a counsellor. This service is funded by Callaghan Innovation and is only available to startup founders. You do not need to be a Callaghan Innovation customer. Contact TELUS Health via email or phone 0800 360 364 and give them the code CIFCP.

For information about other kinds of wellbeing support, go to more founder wellbeing resources.

My business is not a startup.

If your business is not a startup, you are not eligible for the free counselling services on offer here, but please look at the other kinds of wellbeing support available in more founder wellbeing resources.

Restorative services

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

Frequently asked questions about the above two services

Who are the services for?

Any startup founder in New Zealand can engage with TELUS Health and with Aspen Restorative Consulting. We define a "startup" as a company that seeks to develop an innovative and scalable business.

Who is TELUS Health?

TELUS Health delivers Employee Assistance Programmes and offers an ecosystem of health services including:

Find out more.

Who is Aspen Restorative Consulting?

Aspen Restorative Consulting is a collective of skilled coaches with a variety of expertise to provide confidential, independent advice.

Find out more about the team.

What can I expect after I schedule a chat with Aspen Restorative Consulting?
  • Your chat will be with someone who specialises in supporting people who have experienced trauma, and who will treat your conversation with the utmost confidence. If you wish, you can also speak with someone who has a tikanga approach. Aspen Restorative Consulting can help you determine the appropriate pathway for you, whether that means doing nothing, continuing with Aspen Restorative Consulting, engaging in a tikanga approach, connecting with an additional service or something else.
  • Callaghan Innovation will only receive anonymised and aggregated data from Aspen Restorative Consulting, unless you consent to sharing your information. This data will be assessed by a small group within Callaghan Innovation who dedicate time to improve the culture and to try to address systemic problems in the ecosystem.
  • You have the option to ask Aspen Restorative Consulting to inform Callaghan Innovation and/or any of our programme staff, of your specific situation if you wish. Aspen Restorative Consulting will discuss with you how this information will be shared. Please note Callaghan Innovation may be limited in how it can assist you beyond the services that Aspen Restorative Consulting offers as we do not have a direct relationship with you (unless you are a Callaghan Innovation customer or part of one of our applicable programmes and have identified an issue related to that). However, we will endeavour to assist as much as possible and take all concerns raised with us seriously. 
How will my information be treated?

TELUS Health and Aspen Restorative Consulting will hold your personal and confidential information in accordance with their terms and conditions which are available when scheduling an initial chat. Callaghan Innovation will not hold this information unless it is specifically shared with us, at your request or with your permission (such as by Aspen Resorative Consulting), in which case:

  • Your personal information will be handled in accordance with Callaghan Innovation’s privacy policy.
  • As Callaghan Innovation is a Crown agency, we are subject to the Official Information Act 1982 and we are required to make information available to requestors under that Act if requested to do so and provided there are no grounds under that Act to withhold the information. If requested, when sharing information we will take reasonable steps to protect your personal, confidential and/or commercially sensitive information, including de-identifying and/or redacting information where we can under the provisions of the Act, to meet our obligations.
  • Depending on the circumstances detailed in the shared information, it may trigger our obligations to notify Worksafe.

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.

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. has 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. 

‘How to improve entrepreneur mental health’ is a webinar 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 offer free assessments to New Zealand-based startup founders.* is a network of therapists, counsellors, social workers, psychologists and life coaches in New Zealand.

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

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