Rural Mental Health

Before New Zealand went into lockdown, Sam "Lashes" Casey spoke to a few famous Kiwi faces to find out how they deal with tough times, as part of The Country's #kickoffyourboots campaign for rural mental health.

In the second video of the series, he caught up with television presenter and radio host Toni Street, for part one of a two part interview on how she takes care of her mental health.

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The Street family has been dealt its fair share of tragedy and Toni said she spent much of her childhood watching her parents go through "unimaginable grief."

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"My twin brother died when I was 18 months old of leukemia and then my parents had another child that was born without kidneys, and so she died a couple of days after she was born.

"There was also a brother in between us that died in a four-wheel motorbike accident on our farm. I was 18 at the time."

On top of this Street discovered later in life that she had a life-threatening autoimmune disease.

"So yeah - we have had our fair share of tough times."

As a result, Street found that she took on a leadership role for her family and friends, and was reluctant to ask for help from others.

"Particularly when I was grieving around when my brother died, because - did I want to go and lean on my parents who had already endured losing three children? Not really. I didn't really want to burden them any further."

Eventually she learned that talking about how she was feeling didn't just help her, it proved beneficial for other people as well.

"If you stay closed off because you don't want to burden them, you're actually burdening them by not saying anything.

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"You just have to ignite the conversation and often it has to come from you, because people don't know how to help you - only you can start that conversation and that can be really hard when you don't want to burden people - but it is worth it."

Street said her busy lifestyle meant it was easy to get overwhelmed at times and she has had to learn to say no if she starts to feel she is burning the candle at both ends.

"I always think oh I can't cancel that, I can't not do that because people will think I've let them down, but actually most people, if you say - look I'm just totally slammed at the moment I can't be there for that - the first thing they will say is - totally understand.

"Everyone's busy and everyone knows that you can't be everywhere."

Making sure to have a life outside of work was really important said Street.

"Having things going outside of work - if things don't go well at work - you've always got other parts of your life that are going well."

Everybody had highs and lows but it was important to "know your triggers" said Street.

"Know what makes you feel a bit down or depressed and know that that's OK to feel that way."

As well as this, Street said it was good to have a plan for the down times.

"What am I going to do when I feel like that? What am I going to do to pick myself up? Is it going to the gym, is it having a coffee with friends? Who am I going to talk to if I feel that way? And make sure that those people are on hand."

"Quite often we make problems far worse in our mind and the minute you tell someone about it - that all goes away."