Although Gumboot Friday is a national initiative, it has struck a chord with rural people in particular.

I AM HOPE founder Mike King launched Gumboot Friday to raise money and awareness for children's mental health.

The Country's Jamie Mackay suggested the rural connection between gumboots and mental health is obvious and King agreed.

"To be fair you've got a big problem in the rural sector with isolation, with the ups and downs with our primary industry. It's really tough for our rural folk."


"For [rural] kids in particular it can be really tough. Mum and Dad usually put on their staunch face and pretend that everything is ok but, kids are highly sensitive - they know when things aren't right."

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"It's just an ideal time for us as parent to role model better behaviour and make it ok for our kids to ask for help."

Gumboot Friday aims to raise money for free counselling for children, and King said the fundraising is going "exceptionally well," so far.

"Just this morning we have picked up on Givealittle $110,000 which has taken us past the $300,000 mark. That's pretty good for a small country."

Access to face-to-face counselling has been a challenge for Kiwi kids said King, as they have to go to a doctor and be diagnosed as having a mental health problem, before they "can get into that long queue," for assistance.

King doesn't want kids to feel stigmatised by this process, or "made to feel like they're weird for going and asking for help."

The traditional Kiwi attitude of "put your head down and work hard," needs to change said King, who has spoken up about his own battle with depression.

He was surprised by the people's reactions to him going public with his mental health problems.


"I watched this big, big six-foot-five inch farmer dude looking at me and ... I could see him shaking his head and I thought, 'here we go'."

"He bowed down and whispered in my ear and went , 'I'm a nutter too mate,' and wandered off with a big grin on his face and I thought wow - attitudes are changing."

Make a donation here to support Gumboot Friday.
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.