Talking openly about mental health

Robbie 'Gooserooter' Shefford is reaching out to people in the community wanting to talk, help and support themselves and others dealing with mental health issues.

Robbie ‘Gooserooter’ Shefford is aiming to raise awareness of mental health and take away any stigma by getting people talking.

He wants to connect with people around the importance of mental health and is hosting the first of his mental health Mind Matrix evenings next week.

“Too often we are focused on all the negative in our life, when we need to be talking about the joys in our life,” he said.

The evening, at Panthers Rock, in Mayfield on June 30, from 7.30pm, is open to anyone wanting to talk, help or support others with mental health issues, and to bounce ideas, in a friendly and non judgemental environment, with like-minded people, he said.

Geraldine-born and bred, now living in Mid Canterbury, Robbie has quite a social media following for his Truck This and Truck That channel, where his down-to-earth personality and raucous sense of humour see him connect with a diverse audience, from truckies and contractors, to farmers and mechanics.

Over the years Robbie has been a dairy farmer, engineer, mechanic, and truck driver, he has also been a firefighter, Scout leader and helped St John.

He is quick to “call a spade a spade. And while that doesn’t necessarily please everyone, or make you well-liked, that’s who I am,” he said.

He refuses to pander to popular opinion and has a straightforward attitude to most problems in life. He has also become an increasingly well-recognised face (and voice) at rural events nationwide.

Robbie ‘Gooserooter’ Shefford specially designed a teeshirt for sale to help support farmers in the Mid Canterbury district following flooding events last year.

Most widely known as Gooserooter, his nickname came about after an incident involving a broken-down Kenworth, a gooseneck trailer and several jammed fingers when he was working as an engineer and mechanic for a rural transport company in Ashburton.

The incident led to a lifetime of Kenworth banter and the occasional light-hearted rant, he said.

His sense of humour is always to the fore, but he doesn’t shy away from honest conversations or from sharing his flaws and emotions.

It was one such past experience which had a major impact on his life and saw him begin to talk openly about mental health and depression.

His conversations struck a chord with many. So, he kept talking and sharing.

“I think it’s important to front up and speak in person to people, whether it’s just a handful of people at the pub on a Friday night or a packed venue of hundreds. I want to make a difference,” he said.

He is hopeful the Mind Matrix will become a regular event and may even look to set up similar meetings around the district.

Anyone wanting to attend can register their interest by phone, or text, to 027 552 4624.

It is important for people to come away from the evening knowing they are not alone, and are able to build a network of people they can talk to openly, Robbie said.