Youth mental health advocate Mike King says too much emphasis is placed on education for young people.

The former comedian began advocating for mental health 10 years ago and for the past five he has been visiting schools educating students about their mental health.

Education, yes it's very important, we all know that, but not as important as we think it is.

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He said more emphasis should be put on wellbeing.

"Education, yes it's very important, we all know that, but not as important as we think it is," King said.

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"Our talks are all around normalising the inner critic and letting kids know that everyone has self doubt and everyone makes mistakes."

King is visiting Whanganui next week where he will speak at six local schools, talk to youth leaders at Rātana Pā and host a community kōrero.

He last visited Whanganui in 2015. Since then, he has been traveling New Zealand with The Key to Life Charitable Trust, hosting seminars and completing tours.

He said parents were giving their children mortgages before they'd had a chance to live.

"We're a country that needs builders, we're a country that needs tradesmen, yet we're obsessed with putting our kids through university. I just don't get it.

"Parents tell me all the time that their kids put pressure on themselves to get to university. No, they don't. The people putting pressure on them is our generation."

As part of his community kōrero, which will take place at Rutherford Junior High School tomorrow at 6.30pm, King will try to convince parents they're the problem.

He believes that, rather than pointing the finger of blame at things like the internet, cellphones or bullying, parents need to dedicate quality time to their kids.

If you take your mask off in front of kids and make yourself vulnerable, they'll take their masks off too and show you just how amazing they really are.

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"Quality time means sitting down with them, listening to them and valuing their thoughts and opinions," King said.

"If you take your mask off in front of kids and make yourself vulnerable, they'll take their masks off too and show you just how amazing they really are."

Local mental health authorities are welcome to attend the event and representatives will have the opportunity to speak before King takes the stage.

For the first time in a decade dedicated to promoting mental health issues and telling children that it is okay to experience self doubt, King is seeing change.

He said nothing happened and no one said anything for nine years under the National government, but he believes the tide has turned under Labour.

Youth are leading that change.

"I will go into a school, I will talk for 45 minutes and then the students will ask questions for an hour and a half," King said.

Mike King checking out his Frizzell designed motorscooter that will be transporting him from Bluff to Cape Reinga as part of the I AM HOPE campaign.
Mike King checking out his Frizzell designed motorscooter that will be transporting him from Bluff to Cape Reinga as part of the I AM HOPE campaign.

"You should see the looks on the teachers' faces, they can't believe how amazing our young people really are."

King will visit Te Kura o Kokohuia and Whanganui Intermediate School on Monday, Whanganui Girls' College and Rutherford on Tuesday, then Whanganui City College and Wanganui Collegiate School on Wednesday.