The Soapbox Episode Three: Rural mental health
The Soapbox
The Soapbox

The Soapbox Episode Three: Rural mental health

At REX, we reckon Kiwi farmers are talked at, not listened to. 

As the home of rural content in NZ, we’re keen to hear your thoughts on some of the hard questions that we feel Kiwis are asking, want to ask, or deserve to ask.

We believe the best people to ask those questions to are you, the people in the fields, on the tractors, in the labs, anywhere and everywhere contributing to the overarching rural sector of Aotearoa.

So each week, we are going to post a question or group of questions to our Facebook page and we want to hear what you have to say.

The question posed to you this week was: Is the rural mental health space too cluttered? Are there too many organisations fighting for the same funding?

REX host Dominic George sat down with rural mental health advocate Craig 'Wiggy' Wiggins to talk about what some of you had to say, what next steps need to be taken and more.

Wiggy, drawing from his extensive experience with AgriConnect and other initiatives, provided an eye-opening perspective on this issue.

"The worst thing is that it became the mental health industry. When it's an industry, it talks about making money, and there are definitely some organizations and some people that are given and make a lot of money and perhaps don't deliver," Wiggy said. 

He emphasised the importance of making lasting contributions within these communities, rather than just raising awareness.

The conversation delved into the role of the church in rural mental health and contemplated the possibility of an influx of organizations and chaplains in these areas. 

Wiggy highlighted the commendable work of the Rural Support Trust who provide essential services in rural spaces.

Responding to a listener's comment about the church's role, Wiggy said, "Once upon a time farming communities went to church, and the home visiting vicar, priest, or minister would fulfil the role of listener, as well as the church being an important social connection." 

He suggests that state health agencies and their contractors are only needed relative to the loss of what the church used to do.

Wiggy underlined the importance of everyday acts of kindness and the profound impact they can have on mental health.

"When it comes to mental health, I think strong communities make strong people and strong people make strong communities." 

"Look at the people that are around you, help those that are around you and go from there," Wiggy concluded.

We loved your feedback, and definitely believe there was constructive feedback and advice that could help other Kiwis who might be facing some of the problems addressed.

Like and follow the 'Rural Exchange' Facebook page to keep up to date with all things rural and to continue to give your feedback and have your thoughts heard and brought to experts and leaders across the sector.

Listen to the full chat between rural mental health advocate Craig 'Wiggy' Wiggins and Dominic George above.

To check out more episodes listen to the REX Today Podcast anytime on your favourite streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Rova or tune in to REX Mornings live on Magic from 5 am to 6 am every weekday.

Visit the Rural Exchange Facebook or Instagram page for more information and regular updates from the REX team.