Gumboot Friday to support young lives

Praneeta Mahajan

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, 4 November 2022

Mike King (I am hope website photo)

People around the country are set to put on their gumboots and raise funds for a free counselling service for children and young people on Gumboot Friday.

Gumboot Friday is an initiative by mental health charity I Am Hope that provides under-25s with free counselling services.

Fundraisers will be organising local and regional events on Friday, November 4, with all proceeds going towards connecting kids with counsellors, but people can also donate directly to the cause by visiting the Gumboot Friday website.

According to Gumboot Friday, past fundraising has helped 9300 children access 20,481 counselling sessions.

On Tuesday, I Am Hope founding ambassador and mental health advocate Mike King criticised long waitlists and a lack of mental health support within the health system.

Mike King said “we need to speak up and not put our faith in the system. Kids are dying and I need you to stop being silent. I am tired and we collectively need to do something.”

Mr King said if we don’t do something about the young lives we lose due to lack of support and timely help. “We can either sit around and we can whinge about it, or we can do one of two things about it. We can invest in our system, which is Gumboot Friday, and if you can’t invest, stop being silent. You need to speak up about this,” King said.

What the numbers say

A 2020 survey by now-disestablished Te Hiringa Hauora (Health Promotion Agency) found that mental distress was highest among the 15 to 24 year old age group and that young people were more likely to report experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Mental health advocates have previously criticised a lack of access to mental health services. In October, Health NZ figures showed that the public health system was short of 643 mental health staff.

Employment data from Health NZ shows the country is in need of 120 psychiatrists, 408 mental health nurses and 115 clinical psychologists. All up, that’s a shortage of 643 staff working in public mental health roles.

Robinson said there was no “quick fix”, and in the best-case scenario, it would take more than a decade to fill such a major void in the mental health workforce.

Support around the Country

This year, for Gumboot Friday there are several activities planned to spread awareness around the campaign. The events will be live-streamed on various platforms online, with Mike King speaking to guests and giving shout-outs to people around the country, Live chats with Ambassadors in Te Awamutu, Mt Maunganui and other parts of the country.

In Timaru, more than 70 adults and children, and five businesses, competed last weekend in a now-annual Timaru competition raising money for Gumboot Friday.

Mount Maunganui Surf Club will have activities all day from noon onwards like sausage sizzle, and kids activities among others to promote the cause, and raise awareness families are encouraged to bring the kids after school and attend the event.

In Hamilton, the Gumboot Friday event will take place at Garden Place from 4 to 7 pm. In Te Awamutu, the ‘Gumboot Gala’ is being planned at Albert Park from 4 pm to 7 pm.

In Auckland, a Walk of Hope will be planned at the Auckland Viaduct from 2 pm with a live broadcast with Mike King in the Viaduct from 4 pm onwards.

In Palmerston North, a comedy fundraiser ‘Stand up for a Mate’ is being planned by ‘DIY Comedy’ to support the gumboot Friday initiative.

Nelson will see a live band perform at ‘Street food on Washington’ and Blenheim will have Gumboot throwing competition at the Marlborough A&P show.

You can contribute towards the initiative by simply messaging ‘BOOTS’ to 469 or log in to https://www.gumbootfriday.org.nz/ to know about other ways you can help.

Where to get help

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Hamilton.

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