REX Online

Wiggy in the US: Rural mental health advocate taking campaign to international stage

July 27, 2023

Rural mental health advocate Craig 'Wiggy' Wiggins is heading to Indianapolis, in the United States for a fencing conference in October this year.

Wiggy told REX Today host Dominic George he was asked by a friend to commentate the fencing competition and do some mental health work around Lean on a gate, talk to a mate, one of Wiggy's main mental health initiatives.

"He brought a heap of clothing and hats and stuff to take back to the states with him and he said, this lean on a gate, talk to a mate thing needs to go global, and he's prepared to get behind it and make it happen," Wiggy said.

"It's very humbling to be fair."

Back on home soil, Wiggy is very excited about an event coming up in August called Equiconnect, gathering as many people in the Equestrian industry in Canterbury together to talk about mental health, performance pressure and anxiety.

"Everything from Rodeo dressage to racing and everything in between…they are a high-performance sport, they invest a lot of time, money and energy and do a lot of travelling, they could do with a bit of help too."

Former Māori All Black Slade McFarland will speak at the event about leaving a sport alongside Wiggy talking about social media as well as a sports psychologist who has been a part of New Zealand's high-performance sport industry.

He acknowledged that the entire globe is still facing tough circumstances and that even the smallest actions could make a massive difference to someone who is struggling.

"People are looking for how to work their way through that…if you can bring people together and they can share the load and that Lean on a gate, talk to a mate campaign is really prevalent with all the stuff we are doing.

"There's a heap of people out there that want to help, they're just not sure how to do it."

Touching on the recent news of former MP Kiri Allan who stood down from her parliamentary responsibilities after being involved in a car crash on Sunday, Wiggy reiterated the importance of mental and physical health when working in a high-pressure situation.

"You make your worst decisions when you're under the pump.

"If you can make sure that you are taking care of yourself, that's the time you can respond to a situation instead of reacting.

"Farmers are psychologically wired to be reactive so taking a step back and analysing and responding is really important but it's not easy to do if you're not in a good spot."

Allan has since apologised for her actions on social media and announced that she will not be standing in this year's upcoming election.

As always, Wiggy is still travelling around the country as part of the Lean on a gate, talk to a mate campaign with a number of different events up and down Aotearoa.