Hidden Disabilities: Mental Health with Take Off


On the 10th May we had another Libchat in our Hidden Disabilities series. We were visited by Mark and Ellie from the mental health charity Take Off, which is based in Canterbury. Mark and Ellie talked to us about their personal struggles with mental health. Their candid interview was enlightening, inspiring and heart wrenching.

Take Off started in 1998 and is now one of the leaders in Peer Support for those that have experience mental or physical health problems. Take Off helps people improve their mental and physical wellbeing by managing their social care needs in a creative, social and safe atmosphere.

Take Off hosts a number of projects, including self-help groups, crisis support groups, and a mental health service user forum.

Mark, a retired police officer, has struggled with depression for many years and has had a number of diagnosis, including multiple personality disorder and bi-polar disorder. When meeting Mark, it is hard to envision such a cheerful, chatty man being affected by mental health, yet Mark talked to us about his time in secure units, and the frustration and the peace that these places can inspire. It is through his time in mental health facilities that Mark entered into the world of helping others. Mark recalled an incidence of being made to create an egg cup, but not being allowed to boil an egg to go in it. Mark believes that patients should be allowed to choose how they recover, which has inspired the way in which Take Off is now run.

Ellie, a recent graduate from the University of Kent, has also suffered from anxiety and depression. Ellie, like Mark exudes a persona of someone jovial, fun loving and carefree. It is sad to think of these wonderful people being let down by the medical profession, however, Ellie recounted visiting the GP and automatically being prescribed pills to combat her anxiety. It is through a degree in Psychology, that Ellie was able to identify her anxiety and through self-help guidance was able to overcome some of her fears. Through this she has been able to develop Take Off with Mark to help other young people gain the help and support that they need.

Through talking to Mark and Ellie, and discussion of their experiences. As the heart of the University, could the library do more to help our students that may be suffering from homesickness, anxiety, depression and other stresses that higher education can bring. Ellie’s advice is to ask. If you see someone that is upset, do not brush them off and walk past, but ask if they would like to talk, take them for coffee. In Ellie’s experience if someone is not ready to talk they will tell you so, but do try and follow up, book in a time and a place to have a catch up. Take their email and check up on them. Although everyone has different needs and recover in different ways, we all need to be able to feel that there is someone out there to talk to. But remember, you can control what you say, but you can never control the answer!

Staff and students can find help by going to the Wellbeing service on campus.

From Nikki on behalf of the Libchats team.

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