Gumboot Friday offering free online counselling for youth

Source: 1News

In the face of rising Covid lockdown stress, Gumboot Friday has launched its free online counselling services for Kiwis up to 25-years-old.

The mental health advocate and educator lashed out at the Ministry of Health over funding in a fiery Breakfast interview.

The charity, which falls under I AM HOPE, founded by mental health advocate Mike King, already has 170 registered counsellors available for online therapy sessions, with this number continuing to grow daily

King told 1 NEWS teenagers struggle with being isolated from their friends. 

"It's another piece in the jigsaw puzzle to proactively take care of young people’s mental health," he says. 

“The common theme we have found in kids struggling with their mental health, is an incessant inner critic. It is that little voice that has them second guessing the things they do, say and see throughout the day. And the worst thing for anyone with an overactive inner critic is to be locked up in a room or a house by themselves,” King says.

"With depression and anxiety statistics continuing to rise with the onset of the pandemic in 2020, New Zealand’s overburdened mental health services is at a breaking point; the consequences resulting in young people falling through the gaps and leading to irreversible tragedy.

“Think about the last time you were left alone by yourself for days on end. You start thinking about all the horrible things that have happened to you or you’ve seen.

“Terrible news you’ve read or heard. You may end up ruminating on these corrosive thoughts. It’s more critical than ever to be able to seek support and get it in appropriate timing,” King points out.

"We have a million dollars sitting in the fund so we might as well do something with it," he told 1 NEWS.

"If money runs out we will just have to raise some more money." 

King said the process of accessing support is simple.

"Find a counsellor, click on counsellor and the counsellor will be in touch within 48 hours," he says.

He said there is generally a limit of two sessions but people can re-apply if they need more support. 

"We are not the full solution to this problem but another piece of the giant jigsaw puzzle."

King said since its launch three years ago, Gumboot Friday has raised over $2 million for free counselling, the equivalent of picking up the bill for over 16,000 critical counselling sessions to more than 3,900 New Zealanders.

This year, the aim is to provide over 30,000 free counselling sessions by achieving the $5 million goal.

Kiwis can donate to the charity through its Givealittle page, through internet banking or by texting 'BOOTS' to 469.