Rural Mental Health

Instead of simply talking about the rural mental health problem, Jamie, Rowena, Lashes and the team at The Country radio station want to be part of the solution.

In farming, you are exposed to a unique set of challenges that often are beyond your control.

No matter how prepared you are or how hard you work; no matter how adaptable or resilient you become, unavoidable factors like climate events, fluctuations in commodity prices or worldwide events such as Covid-19 have huge impacts.

Sometimes it all becomes a bit overwhelming.


Along with external factors come the day-to-day challenges of running a business. And in farming, as opposed to most other businesses, you don't always have a team around you to shoulder the pressure and share the load.

We at The Country know that while farmers are great at looking after their farms, their workers, their stock and their equipment, too often they forget about themselves and their own wellbeing.

With this in mind, we have become acutely aware that the mental health of our audience is a subject that warrants our focus.

The feedback from our listeners and readers is that they are receptive now, more than ever, to hearing about mental health, about accepting help, and learning strategies to cope.

The work that those invested in our rural community have done around mental health has contributed to an eagerness to talk, to listen and to actively engage in the conversation.

At The Country we feel we are in a privileged position. Over the years we have become a "friend and companion" to farmers who, working alone, often feel isolated.

Each day, we talk to rural New Zealanders through the radios in their tractors or in their sheds, or in their farm kitchens as they stop for a bite before they head back out. We have felt an overwhelming drive to be part of the conversation around rural mental health. 

Gumboot Friday, 3 April

We want to be there during the good times, and the bad.  And instead of simply talking about the problem, we want to be part of the solution.


We've all heard about Gumboot Friday, a New Zealand-wide initiative (Friday 3 April) that is a fun way for Kiwis to join in the mental health conversation, while raising money to provide free counselling for our young people.

Gumboot Friday is an analogy for how depression feels - like walking through mud every day.

By wearing gumboots, the rest of New Zealand symbolically shows their support by "walking in their shoes for just one day".

Leading into Gumboot Day, we at The Country are launching a Rural Mental Health Awareness week and asking people to #kickoffyourboots

Sam "Lashes" Casey, Rowena Duncum and Jamie Mackay. Photo / File

Kick Off Your Boots is a positive take on a serious issue. It's about taking off your boots and feeling the earth beneath your feet. It's about connecting with the land and with your family and friends.

Taking off your boots symbolises leaving your work and your worry at the door, and encouraging conversations in the farm kitchen, sharing food and friendship with our neighbours, and taking the time for our family.

Obviously right now this means keeping in touch over social media platforms, or on the phone, as New Zealand works together, (by staying apart) to fight Covid-19 - but we can do it!

We hope Kick Off Your Boots resonates with our rural community as they walk in the door at the end of the day.

Your boots symbolise the hard work done on the farm.

Taking them off symbolises taking time to relax and look after yourself, your family and your community.

We would love you to join us, share your stories with us, and hear from those who want to help, so #kickoffyourboots – 30 March through to Gumboot Friday, 3 April.