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Gumboot Friday Is Back

Mental health advocate and former New Zealander of the year, Mike King is calling on Kiwis to put on their gumboots on May 28th to raise awareness and much-needed funds to improve kids’ mental health in New Zealand.

Gumboot Friday is back for 2021 with an ambitious goal to raise $5 million for Kiwi kids struggling with their mental health. The initiative, which was founded by Joesephene Nathan and run by I Am Hope, provides free counselling sessions to Kiwis aged 5–25, and has over 3,800 registered counsellors nationwide, ready to help those who need it most.

Thanks to the efforts of ordinary New Zealanders, Gumboot Friday has raised just under $2 million for critical free counselling sessions to thousands of young New Zealanders*. This year, the aim is to provide close to 40,000 free counselling sessions by achieving the $5 million goal.

“Currently the only way young New Zealanders can get free counselling is by going to a doctor and being diagnosed ‘mentally ill’. Once they have been through that soul destroying experience, they are then placed on waiting lists where they can be for up to a year,” says I Am Hope founder Mike King.

Gumboot Friday connects anyone under 25 with a private counsellor in their area with one click of a button and picks up the bill. The efficient and effective service has been running for the last two years and has achieved outstanding results:

  • Average cost: $124 per session
  • Average sessions per client: 4
  • Average response time: 48 hours
  • Average wait time: 6 days
  • In year one 40% of clients were male - the most at-risk group
  • And nearly 40% of clients were aged 11 and under

“When you see these numbers, it should come as no surprise that we now have DHB clinicians referring their clients to Gumboot Friday to avoid insufferably long waiting lists. We also have DHB clinicians registering with us to finish seeing clients who are no longer eligible for funding from their own service.

“This is a service that was developed ‘for the people, by the people’ yet it is being completely ignored by the Ministry of Health who continue to advance and fund programmes that quite frankly are doomed to fail,” King adds.

“We continue to be encouraged by the Minister of Health to engage with the Health Ministry but when we went to see the former Director General of Mental Health last September, we were told in no uncertain terms that Gumboot Friday did not fit any funding they had available.

“It is becoming clear to me that the Ministry of Health is more focused on funding ambulances at the bottom of the cliff rather than building fences at the top, and they have no intention of funding free counselling for kids. So instead of whinging about it, we’re asking ordinary New Zealanders to roll up their sleeves and pitch in as only Kiwis can, to raise the lifesaving funds our kids desperately need,” he says.

Schools, workplaces, and organisations are encouraged to get involved by putting on their gumboots and registering via the Gumboot Friday website. Once registered, a ‘piggy boot’ will be sent their way to collect funds on 28th May. Otherwise, they are encouraged to join the 100km walk at Auckland’s Domain and help Gumboot Friday achieve its goal of $100k in just 24 hours.

“Our kids need all the help they can get, so we’re asking all Kiwis to help us reach our goal of $5 million this Gumboot Friday. 100% of all donations will go towards funding counselling sessions,” says King.

© Scoop Media

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