Raising funds for kids free counselling
Mental health advocate and I AM HOPE founder Mike King says New Zealanders need to pitch in a second Gumboot Friday this year, to raise adequate funds for young people’s free counselling in New Zealand.
Due to Gumboot Friday’s incredible growth, the $943,000 raised in this year’s Gumboot Friday campaign will only last for three months of counselling services paid for by the charity.
While he’s grateful to every New Zealander that played their part, Mike is worried for the future of young people who need help, when these funds run out.
“I am so grateful to the amazing work of our supporters all over the country who did their absolute best, but I was really disappointed when I found out how much we actually raised because I truly believe we lifted people’s expectations that the help is going to be there, when the reality is in three months’ time, the money is going to run out,” he says.
“What will our kids do then? The thought keeps me up at night. The families who contact me in fear for their children’s lives or loved ones keep me up at night,” he adds.
Despite funding of $1.9 billion from the Government to address New Zealand’s mental health crisis, Mike says the Ministry continues to deny Gumboot Friday funding, most recently citing a missed deadline.
“We started Gumboot Friday at the coalface in 2019 and already the impact is huge. The Ministry has a massive budget and little to show for it, spending more on consultants than we spend on counsellors,” says Mike.
“We have a proven, world class system giving our young people access to counsellors they choose. All counsellors and therapists accessed on our platform are police vetted and registered with NZAC, NZPB, PBANZ, SWRB, NZCCA. Our average waiting times are six days, while the Health Ministry’s is months.
“By our calculations Gumboot Friday’s is providing about 25 per cent of the total equivalent access services provided by all of New Zealand’s District Health Boards as reported in Ministry websites. But somehow, we don’t ‘qualify’ for funding,” Mike points out.
Mike says Gumboot Friday supports and complements DHB services by taking the pressure off the public system and helping young people access services as and when they need them. All funding is tracked directly to counsellors, is transparent and auditable.
While Gumboot Friday can report usage every day, the Ministry and DHBs take months to report on their counselling services for young people.
Already this year, over 2000 young people from all over New Zealand have used Gumboot Friday’s platform to access thousands of professional talk therapy sessions.
All sessions are arranged directly between the client and the therapist, most were face to face.
Of Gumboot Friday users seeking help, 66 per cent are young women, demonstrating a significant need. King says the winter months, social pressures and Covid are all factors.
At current usage rates, the Gumboot Friday service in 2021 will achieve 100 per cent growth over the previous years’ levels.
Gumboot Friday is in demand, responding to the gap in accessible mental health services for our young people across New Zealand.