Although Sir John Kirwan is a self-confessed "city boy," he does venture out into the rural community to teach farmers how to cope with mental health issues when times get tough.

The rugby legend and mental health advocate spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay to offer advice on how to deal with the pressures of rural life.

"The interesting thing that I find in the farming community is that when a farmer feels under pressure, he works harder. He's also relatively introverted by nature ... he worries about a couple of things that tend to be out of his control."

Kirwan suggests farmers should get interests "outside the farm," and to talk about problems with others.


"It's not a weakness to be stressed and under pressure when you have things outside your control. If you can talk about that kind of stuff to your mates, or to your colleagues - or even get some professional help - then that's going to lighten the burden and give you some strategies around how to deal with what's an incredibly difficult time."

Listen below:

Sir John advises "finding balance in your life," and encourages farmers to remember that they work in a "tough industry".

"A lot of the farmers just need to realise that some of the things they face are some of the hardest things anyone would face."

A doctor is a good place to start says Kirwan, but if people feel uncomfortable speaking to someone "in the first instance," they can get more information at
Where to get help:
Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.