All Blacks legend and mental health champion Sir John Kirwan is stepping up to support Kiwis by making a wellbeing app he helped design free during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mentemia – Italian for "my mind" – was created by Kirwan, who has shared his battle with depression, along with tech entrepreneur Adam Clark and medical advisers.

It provides practical tips and techniques to help users take control of their mental health and wellbeing.

"Covid-19 has led to increased anxiety, uncertainty and additional stress in many peoples' lives," says Kirwan, who scored 35 tries in 63 tests for New Zealand, making him one of the highest try scorers in international rugby history.

He has long been open about his battle with depression, which dates to his playing days.

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Sir John Kirwan:
Sir John Kirwan: "I do a few little things every day, and now I'm thriving." Photo / Supplied

"[Right now] people are looking to bring some balance back into their lives."

The app would help people keep up their normal routine as much as possible when it comes to sleep, nutrition and exercise, all essential to reducing stress and anxiety.

It aims to help people better understand the triggers that make them stressed or anxious, and to highlight the little things they can do to help themselves and others.

"I do a few little things every day, and now I'm thriving," says Kirwan.

"That's where Mentemia comes in. It's like having a personalised mental health coach in your pocket."

The free version had been adapted to help New Zealanders during the crisis.

Sir John Kirwan is making his self-help mental health app free during pandemic. Photo / Tania Whyte
Sir John Kirwan is making his self-help mental health app free during pandemic. Photo / Tania Whyte

He was able to provide the app free during the pandemic thanks to a partnership with the Ministry of Health and support from Kiwibank and Westpac.

"It's really important people know there are things we can all be doing to look after our mental wellbeing," says Ministry of Health mental health and addiction deputy director general Robyn Shearer.

"To have a tool that gives you daily reminders of the small things you can do to help focus on what is in our control and what is manageable makes a big difference at a time like this."