'Bark up' launches rural mental health campaign

The mental health campaign in memory of a young shepherd who took his own life has been officially launched. 

'Will to Live' targets young rural men and women and encourages them to 'speak up'.

It was launched by Elle Perriam who lost her boyfriend Will to suicide in December.

She said it was challenging for those in rural areas to get help.

"Counselling is not easy to access in rural areas, and it can take weeks to get appointments," she said.

"It is also hard to get days off in the middle of lambing or shearing."

The campaign includes a regional Speak Up tour, encouraging rural people to open up - and their first stop was the annual Hunterville Huntaway Festival on Saturday.

The 'Will to Live' campaign has been launched in memory of a young shepherd who took his own life.
The 'Will to Live' campaign has been launched in memory of a young shepherd who took his own life. Photo credit: Supplied

The campaign launch also included New Zealand's largest recorded 'bark up', led by black huntaway Jess, who belonged to Will and is the campaign mascot.

Sheep and beef farmer Mark Rhind and his family drove up from Marlborough last night to show support.

"My brother took his life last year - it's actually his birthday tomorrow," he said.

He said it's something that has to be talked about.

"Just talk to people, especially your mates. Everyone was a bit dumbfounded - it was out of the blue," said Mr Rhind.

"If we can talk to each other we can get rid of that stigma," he said.

The regional tour is being funded by a PledgeMe campaign.

Newshub.

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