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Join Thriving Madly for a community screening of Medicating Normal, a 76-minute documentary film exploring our current mental health care system's reliance on psychiatric drugs to deal with trauma, grief, and distress. There will be an interactive community discussion immediately after the film.

One in five Americans takes commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs daily. While these medications often do provide effective short-term relief for emotional distress, pharmaceutical companies have hidden -- from both doctors and patients -- their dangers and long-term harm. Medicating Normal tells the untold story of the disastrous consequences that can occur when profit-driven medicine intersects with human beings in distress.

The film follows the journeys of five ordinary people whose doctors prescribed psychiatric drugs to help with issues such as stress, mild depression, sleeplessness, grief, etc. They experience serious physical and mental side-effects, as well as lasting neurological damage which results from taking the drugs as prescribed. During the film, prominent psychiatrists and scientific experts explain how these drugs became "mainstream." And they affirm that debilitating side-effects including physiological dependency are common, and yet are not commonly acknowledged.

This conversation is important here in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Kia Manawanui, the Government's newly released long-term pathway to mental wellbeing claims it’s “approach widens the historic focus on diagnosis and biomedical interventions, enabling us to see people’s needs holistically – in the context of their whānau, communities, cultural identities and socioeconomic circumstances – and provide a more nuanced range of responses (page 27)”.  To bring this approach to life we will need to consider differently the role of psychiatric drug use when traversing the hard times of life. Additionally, our communities need to understand the broader picture of psychiatric drug consequences and the impacts their use has on people’s lives long term when entering into conversations about the repeal and replacement of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992. 

Our panel includes: Mary O'Hagan, Kelly Pope and Hannah Whittaker-Komatsu and will be convened by Steve Carter.  We look forward to a conversation considering what might be possible for our community in the future.

When: Friday, October 15th. Doors open at 5pm, film starts at 5.30pm sharp. Panel discussion (with pizza!) to begin directly after the screening.


"Medicating Normal dares to challenge prevailing myths about how psychotropic medications work, or fail to, in our ongoing struggle to treat mental illness. It promises to spark a long-overdue national conversation on the growing problem of overprescribing.” - Anna Lembke M.D., psychiatrist, faculty at Stanford University Medical School. 

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NOTE: When purchasing tickets to this event, if you want to sit with people, please book tickets as a group or email us at  Working with Alert Level 2 health measures requires us to consider carefully how we arrange seating layout.  We appreciate your patience as we navigate how to do this.

Panel Members

Mary O'Hagan

Mary O’Hagan was a key initiator of the psychiatric survivor movement in New Zealand in the late 1980s, and was the first chairperson of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry between 1991 and 1995. She has been an advisor to the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Mary was a full-time Mental Health Commissioner in New Zealand between 2000 and 2007. Mary established the international social enterprise PeerZone, which provides peer support and resources for people with mental distress. She has written an award-winning memoir called ‘Madness Made Me’ and was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2015. Mary currently works at Te Hiringa Hauora (New Zealand’s Health Promotion Agency) as General Manager Operations. All Mary’s work has been driven by her quest for social justice for one of the most marginalised groups in our communities.

On my mum’s side of our family I am Dutch and my dad’s family has Scottish, English, Cornish, Irish and German ancestory. I am a person who feels things (especially injustice) deeply, and that has attracted a number of psychiatric ‘explanations’ and labels over the years.

My own journey with big feelings and difficult thoughts, and the experience of losing my boyfriend when I was 17, sparked my need to make a meaningful difference in mental health. I have previously worked as a youth consumer advisor, a peer support worker and with the Awareness consumer network, and last year served on the board of the Initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission. I am currently working as a Principal Advisor Lived Experience at the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, and have immense pride that collectively, people in Aotearoa ‘reclaimed’ our right to have an independent monitoring entity in mental health, when we called for the government to reinstate a Mental Health Commission through the Mental Health Inquiry.

I live in Ōtautahi with my partner and our pets – cats, chickens and flemmish giant bunnies. In my spare time I read, grow vegetables, and spend as much time as I can with the people I love.

Kelly Pope 

Hannah Whittaker - Komatsu 

Hannah Whittaker-Komatsu celebrates life outside the box. Her journey into Peer Support began at 22 and since that time Hannah has journeyed alongside people in a variety of roles. Her thirst for understanding the human experience led her to training as a social worker, however she believes the most useful knowledge she has gained is that which is societally undervalued and most often completely unacknowledged; the purposeful and intentional processing of one’s own life. Identifying what psychiatry called ‘disorders’ and ‘disease’ were in fact her beautiful attempts at survival has been pivotal to her healing journey. Currently working in facilitation and programme development across a range of organisations, Hannah believes in the value of experiential learning and our right to claim our incredible resourcefulness that includes our experience of distress and difference. In her spare time, Hannah developed Thriving Madly, a mutual support community, that creates spaces for connection and opportunity to craft wisdom together to weather the storms of life.

Steve Carter

Steve Carter is a musician and DJ, bookworm, bar-room philosopher, dancefloor operator, wilderness junkie, cryptic crossword cracker, gardener, locavore, culture vulture and pool shark.

He is also a self-employed consultant on the back of a 30 year career in social change and community development. He was one of the team that set up the All Right? campaign in Christchurch and he co-wrote and delivered the Rākau Roroa lived experience leadership training programme for Changing Minds. He is a workforce facilitator for Pathways and sits on their peer support training reference group, and he facilitates MH101 training for Blueprint.

His superpower is tai chi and his kryptonite is cucumber.


Friday 15 October 2021

5.30 am - 7.30 pm 


The Lounge

Oxford Terrace Baptist Church 

288 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central

Registrations / Tickets

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