Jason Herrick says he and his mates set up mental health support group "Ag Proud NZ" not only to help farmers through tough times, but to strengthen the bond between urban and rural people.

The Lumsden dairy farmer told The Muster's Andy Thompson, that he wanted to "concentrate on mental health awareness and positive farm practices and get it out into the public eye".

Herrick is no stranger to mental health issues, as he found himself in a very dark place after an adverse weather event threatened his livelihood nine months ago.

Farmer's important mental health message- 'It's OK to not be OK'


"I found myself ... basically hitting a brick wall" said Herrick.

Pressure had been building up for Herrick since the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 but he didn't realise the effect it had been having on his mental health.

The challenges of farming and his wife's health scare added to his state of mind. Herrick said he was unaware of the build up until it was too late.

"Last year the pressure just got a bit much. I didn't realise it was happening at the time. When it happens, you snap and you have no control. It's like your brain goes into a different mode. Unfortunately I went down the path of trying to take my own life".

Luckily Herrick found someone who got him in touch with "the right people" and showed him where he could find help.

"I sought support from people that I never knew was actually there. There is a lot of support for mental health ... in our community".

"I've met some awesome people. They have helped me in the last nine months get to where I am today".

Listen to the full interview below:

"Self confessed Southern man" Herrick said he felt "ashamed" after his suicide attempt, and wanted to get the message out to help lessen the stigma.


"I never though this would ever happen to me. I was always hitting myself in the back of the head saying 'come on harden up, get on with it - take a concrete pill and move on'. But unfortunately I did end up in that state of mind and it can happen to anybody".

Herrick said there had been a "fantastic" response to him speaking out publicly about his mental health.

"The one main reason that I'm putting my story out there is to let people know that there is help. Let them know that they're not weak. If they are feeling this way - go and talk to somebody. Reach out to a perfect stranger".

"Anybody has got an ear and if they're willing to listen, they will help you".

Learn more about Ag Proud NZ here.
Also in today's interview: Herrick talked about how his involvement with activists in the recent anti winter grazing campaign in Southland helped inspire the launch of Ag Proud NZ.

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.