In light of the up and coming charity week, I decided it would be appropriate to look at some of the workers at this charity and their stories. Established in 1946, MIND is a mental health charity in England and Wales with many regional branches – Mr Mark Taffs (the man who I interviewed) has been working there for the past 10 years and was eager to share his journey and experiences throughout his time at MIND in West Essex
How did you come about working at MIND? Whilst doing his counselling diploma, Mark was required to complete 40 hours of personal counselling. He was coincidentally counselled by a lady who at the time worked for MIND. “We spent a lot of time talking about mind!” Mark reflected – after completing his diploma a job for a counsellor arose at a branch in Harlow which Mark took and thus began his ‘MIND journey’. After working there, Mark was asked to work in a GP surgery as a counsellor in the West Essex branch. Shortly after he became an assessor and moved to Dunmow; Mark now works one day a week as a triage leader. Mark explained this as such “Any GP with a patient suffering from a mental illness will send it to a triage who then assesses whether primary care (e.g. counselling) or secondary care (possibly psychologist/psychiatrist) are needed.
What is a favourite memory you hold from your time at MIND? “I worked with a young woman, who was outwardly good looking, but she suffered from body dysmorphia from a young age. She suffered from very bad eczema as a child and although it had cleared up, when she looked in the mirror she could still see the marks on her face.” Mark reflected on how worthwhile and rewarding it was to work with the young woman and see her improvements day by day as she overcame the illness.
What advice would you give to young people struggling with mental illnesses? “A really big thing is that you are not alone – there are many other of your peers which will have the same issues”. Secondly, Mark stressed the importance of talking to your close friends and family to let people know about your position.
What advice would you give to young people with peers who are struggling with mental illnesses? “An important point is to not be scared of mental illness” – this point which Mark made is something we at interact find very interesting as it is what we are trying to ultimately achieve with this week of awareness. Mark also advised that one should be “inclusive, understanding.” Mark also advised that getting your peer or family member support and help when needed is very important.
The mind of a MIND worker shares a key message with us as it resonates with the fact that mental illness is not, and should not be, a taboo of today – hopefully with this charity week we can aim to implement that view.