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 about the importance of taking care of yourself, whether urban or rural.

"The message from me was that everyone's got mental health. We've all got mental health, it's like physical health and anxiety and stress are part of our lives, it's just the severity some times."

Kirwan was in Winton last week where he spoke to 120 people on the importance of taking stock of their own mental health.


Listen below:

"I think in the rural community, it's a tough time," says Kirwan who encourages farmers to pay more attention to themselves when they feel overwhelmed, and to treat these feelings as a normal part of life.

"It's just a matter of opening up the discussion and just making it normal to have that discussion and realise you've got to get help."

Mackay asks Kirwan why New Zealand has such a high suicide rate.

"I don't think we are open about our emotions. We suppress our emotions. When I was really unwell, crying was failure 'because I got taught - as we all did in our era - to grow up and crying was not something that a man did. That's completely wrong."

Also in today's interview: Sir John Kirwan talks a bit about his experience going public with his depression as an All Black and chats to Mackay about how the footy is going today.

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.