17 Sep 2021

Farmer launches 'lean on a gate, chat to a mate' mental health campaign

From Afternoons, 1:40 pm on 17 September 2021

Rural health advocate and farmer Craig 'Wiggy' Wiggins is encouraging rural people to take five minutes each day to 'lean on a gate and talk to a mate'. 

Wiggy is running the Lean on A Gate campaign (#leanonagatetalktoamate) via his Facebook page Whatever with Wiggy.

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Many farmers who are isolated and struggling with their mental health simply don't know where to turn, Wiggy tells Jesse Mulligan.

"We've had John Kirwan and Mike King and a bunch of others in our industry talk about it being okay not to be okay but we've had a real bottleneck with the regions. People don't quite know where to go or what to do."

Getting connected and staying connected can be tough for farmers, Wiggy says, and that's why he started Lean on A Gate.

"We suggest you sit down and take five minutes out of the day… while you're shifting the stock. Take five minutes to lean on a gate and talk to a mate. That mate could be the dog that you're using that day, it could be the horse that you're riding, it could be somebody in your past that knows your history that you haven't talked to for quite some time, it could be your spouse, anyone that's significant in your life.

"If you took five people out of your cell phone that used to be really important to you… and thought about how often you've rung them and talked to them, you might actually find it's well overdue.

"If you did one person a week then start again in five weeks time, it wouldn't be a bad cycle."

Farmers used to 'lean on a gate and talk to a mate' at sale yards but most people no longer go to these, Wiggy says.

And even though mobile phones are supposed to connect us, we seem to have forgotten they have a dial pad.

"We all have a cellphone… we tend to become a bit isolated in our own cellphone and in our own lives but I think the fact that we all do have a cellphone should mean we can lean and mate a bit more often.

"You might find you get a giggle or two going and you'll feel better about things."


Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155