National | Gumboot Friday

Gumboot Friday: Complacency kills - Kiwi kids need youth counselling now more than ever as demand soars

Leading youth mental health charity I Am Hope chief executive Troy Elliott is urging fellow New Zealanders to actively support Gumboot Friday on November 3, amid the escalating demand for free youth counselling services.

While the charity is deeply appreciative of the incoming government’s pledge, specifically Christopher Luxon’s $5 million promise made on the Rock Breakfast show last week, these funds will not be immediately accessible for Gumboot Friday. Additionally, the broader $20m pledged for mental health earlier this year, will be spread across several initiatives nationwide.

I Am Hope founder Mike King reinforces the importance of continued public support.

“We mustn’t assume that the $5 million is immediately available or that the entire $20 million is solely for Gumboot Friday. Demand for Gumboot Friday services has skyrocketed by over 500 per cent in just two years. From financing 550 monthly sessions in 2021 at $78,000, we now fund over 3400 free sessions at $510,000 monthly,” says King.

Elliott highlights that the surge in demand is primarily due to referrals from Te Whatu Ora-funded services. Many agencies, including the 1737 mental health support line and general practitioners, now direct youth aged 25 years and under to Gumboot Friday services thanks to its diverse range of counsellors and quick turnaround times, in comparison to the overstretched and under-resourced public system.

Public referrals welcome

“While it might surprise some, we welcome these referrals. Our fight for funding is minor compared to the battles these young individuals face daily,” Elliott says.

Gumboot Friday’s unique live reporting system showcases unparalleled transparency, tracking every dollar spent with meticulous detail, setting the gold standard for charitable organisations in New Zealand.

“Gumboot Friday is more than just a charity event. It’s an invitation for every New Zealander to rally for the mental wellbeing of our youth. Host events, wear your gumboots, donate or simply spread the word – every effort matters,” Elliott says.

King echoes the sentiment.

“New Zealand has always stood by us, and we’re confident they’ll rise to the occasion once again. A heartfelt thank you, New Zealand. Together, we’ll keep making a transformative impact on the lives of our youth when they most need it,” he says.