Engage Aotearoa

Tag Archives: Open Letter

Service-User Seeks Messages of Support for an Open Letter to their Psychiatrist

Engage Aotearoa has received an open letter to share from a member of the community who has been using one of the Community Mental-Health Services in Auckland. The letter will be read in a week or two to the clinician involved. The service-user also wishes to read a handful of messages of support to reinforce to the doctor that he is not alone in his experiences. If you can sum up a message in 50 words, please use this contact form or email address admin@engagenz.co.nz to pass on your support. Perhaps in this way they can take many people to support them in their meeting. You will not be identified in any way, but if you are willing to include your geographical location, that would help show where the support is coming from.  Engage Aotearoa shares this letter on their behalf below.

It is sad to admit,” says service director, Miriam Larsen-Barr, “but we know the experiences of disempowerment and lack of choice highlighted in this letter are rather widespread. We receive regular emails from community members informing us of similar experiences. People don’t want to complain. They want to be heard, valued, respected, listened to and worked with, not worked on. Perhaps if we bring our voices together and get behind each other more we can help turn that balance of power around.

Open Letter to a NZ Psychiatrist

Dear Doctor

I have written you this letter because every time I attempt to express myself while inside the walls of a mental health facility my words dry up. I choke on my frustration, I sigh at the futility of trying to explain myself to people who have never understood me and I give up. Instead I have put into words well in advance what I want to say to you, so that the message comes across clear. I have written the words down so I can read them calmly, and you will hear them not as mania or psychosis or the rant of a lunatic, but so you will hear them as a carefully prepared statement, and maybe just a few will sink in.

Let me begin by discussing my views on psychiatry in general, so that you understand I have no respect for anyone in your position. I admit, it’s true I have a personal prejudice against psychiatrists, so it would have been hard for you to earn my respect. Here’s why. I think that the entire history of psychiatry has done more harm than good. I think that psychiatry today does more harm than good. You forcefully medicate and detain people against their will, and you claim it helps them. You habituate people to substances which you have absolutely no idea how to help them discontinue. And you repeatedly ignore our service user requests for our own courses of treatment, while claiming you know better because of your education. You think you have a better knowledge of what’s good for me than I have for myself. And you think it because you’re sure you’re better than me in some way, less broken, more together, or more sane. You think my history proves I’m infantile or incapable, and your first and most strong desire is to convince me and make me accept I’m infantile and incapable. Every psychiatrist I have ever seen has been a broken record, and every time I’ve asked for help to meet my own health goals, I’m told I have the wrong goals.

So now I have to come to you personally, doctor. The first memory I have of our meeting, I remember you telling me that because of my history, it seemed obvious to you I would need medication for the rest of my life. Do you tell this to every service user the first time you meet them, Doctor? I’m glad my file is so complete and reliable that you can come to a conclusion about me and the rest of my life based on a few notes that other people have written about me. It’s a bit of a pity that my hopes, dreams, desires, wishes and aspirations don’t come into it at all.

It’s also a pity that you don’t share the rest of your expertise with your patients. Surely you learned something in all that time at university about diet or exercise or meditation or mediation or self-awareness, or in fact any way to flourish other than taking a happy pill. You must have some knowledge from your personal experience of dealing with distress or family members in need. You must have some idea about how to address the skeletons in my closet in a friendly and welcoming environment with someone I feel I can talk to.

Because if you don’t have any advice for me other than what the brand of the day is from the pharmaceutical company who gave you that free pad to write on and coffee mug to drink out of, I really am sad. Because you might as well be a pill vending machine. And maybe one day, when you’re a little older and wiser, you’ll count the years of time you stole from your doped up patients, not to mention the years you took off the end of their lives, and you might feel a little sad too.

Sincerely Yours

A Request for Support from Mike King and Key to Life Charitable Trust

Mike King from The Key to Life Charitable Trust  sent out the following open letter on the 20th of March, asking for community support for their work. By supporting Key to Life Charitable Trust you are also supporting their work with Engage Aotearoa to take suicide prevention initiatives to schools and communities around NZ. Please read Mike King’s letter below and follow the link to cast your vote for Key to Life Charitable Trust in the Toyota 25 Ways to Say Thank You competition.

Click here for more information about The Mike King Cool to Korero and Community Korero Suicide Prevention Talks.

Mike King Writes…

Hi Everyone

Sorry to be a pain but one click can save a life.

Any chance you could help my charitable trust win a brand new Toyota for 3 years by voting and sharing the link?


The Key to Life Charitable Trust was started by me (Mike King) and a group of my friends to address the stigma around mental health and our appalling suicide statistics especially among our kids. Two weeks ago my partner Jo, Miriam Larsen-Barr from EngageNZ and I spent 3 days in Kaitaia encouraging kids (1200+) help fight suicide by talking and supporting each other rather than taking their own lives. Through the newspapers I had heard that there was a ‘suicide problem’ up there, (there have been over 30 suicides up there in the last year including the countries youngest a 10 year old boy) but I was totally unprepared for the sheer scope of the problem. After our 3 school talks we ended up identifying 20 seriously at risk kids and I have been on regular contact with them all since then.

We don’t get any funding, instead me and a very small team of dedicated mates run golf tournaments, sausage sizzles, comedy gigs to keep it all going. When that’s not enough I sell shit I no longer need; 3 weeks ago I sold my old-school Valiant and I’m about to sell my Harley so I can go on doing this work. Why? Because our kids are worth it! There are some seriously great kids out there, who through no fault of their own have been beaten down by horrific circumstances and need someone out there encouraging them to fight for themselves.

I have had a blessed life my friends. I have spent nearly 20 years of my life swearing at people for a living and it is time to give back! I am passionate about this work and even if we don’t win the car I will continue to fight on. However, a vote for the KEY TO LIFE CHARITABLE TRUST will make that fight just a little bit easier.

If ya still here and still reading, bless you and love ya heaps :)

Kind Regards,


Mike King

Key to Life Charitable Trust