Mental Health Awareness Week: A chat with Craig Wiggins

Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, a farmer in Dromore, near Ashburton, is the man behind the message #leanonagatetalktoamate. He posted the message on his Facebook page Whatever with Wiggy after a friend in the industry took his own life, encouraging others to keep in touch with their mates.

We asked Craig what he does to keep his own wellbeing and check, and his advice on helping those who are struggling, whether that be yourself or a loved one.

(NZNFS): What steps do you take to look after your own mental health?

(Craig): I look after my mental health by giving as much as I can to my community and supporting farmers and rural communities as much as I can.
I have lots of different types of work that keeps me on my toes and I’m always looking forward to the next challenge. One of the jobs I do is the Clerk of the Course at racetracks around Canterbury. I get to ride my horse all day and interact with great people – both crowd and race industry personnel. I also get to catch the odd horse that gets away and runs free which can be exciting.

(NZNFS): What advice would you give to someone who is struggling, or is looking to approach someone who is struggling?

(Craig): For people that are struggling, reach out to someone you trust – someone who knows you well. Ask them to help you find help.
That help may be with a doctor or financial advice, a trip away, or some other support. Try and find what drives your struggles and see if you can change that issue for the better. Get involved in your community or a group that interests you, give back to someone who needs help, and your focus will change. Sleep and eat well, appreciate the good things, and push the bad away (especially if it’s not realistic!)
For those worried about someone, just be there, ask the questions, and LISTEN lots. Seek advice on how to handle the situation and be vulnerable to allow them to open up. Get them help if they need it and speak openly.

(NZNFS): Is there any other wellbeing advice you’d like to share?

(Craig): Mental health has many layers. Highs and lows are part of life, but continual lows are not the way we should live.

If you think you can make a change in someone’s life for the better, especially your own, open that door and walk through it. There are so many positive things to live for and so many avenues of support that are available, and I hope people can utilise them to their best use. We have found that the physical health of our farmers needs work on many levels. This leads to more mental unwellness than people realise. So, look to improve all aspects of your life: physical, mental, and community wellbeing and there will be better wellbeing for you and those who care about you.

Also, connect to people who have meant a lot to you in your past – they will be glad to hear from you! #leanonagatetalktoamate

Follow Whatever with Wiggy on Facebook for some great insights on mental healthiness. 

If you or someone you know are struggling, you can get help from the services listed below:

Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254
Will To Live RuralChange program:
Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 or free text 4202

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