The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative: the next five years. Illustration of a lady sitting in rain with an umbrella that has the sun emerging from clouds within it.

Mind Matters reflects on progress and future with publication of new reports

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has, this week, released two key publications – an Evaluation Report outlining its progress and impact since its inception almost a decade ago, and its new Five-Year Strategy announcing the project’s plans and future direction.

Launched in December 2014, MMI was set up by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to help improve and support the mental health and wellbeing of those in the veterinary team, including students, veterinary nurses, veterinary surgeons and practice managers.

The Evaluation Report reflects on the story of MMI so far, looking at some of the key projects established under its three main workstreams: prevent, protect, and support. The report includes case studies outlining the key challenges and problems that MMI has sought to address, what was done to address them, the impact made, and how lessons learned from each of those projects will be used to shape the future of MMI.

The second publication, the Mind Matters Strategy, was developed alongside the evaluation, and presents an overview of MMI’s plans for the next five years, taking stock of MMI’s achievements so far, and looking ahead to new areas of focus that build on current successes while learning from the challenges faced in previous years. The Strategy summarises key objectives, and how these fit into the existing MMI prevent, protect and support workstreams.

Mind Matters Manager, Lisa Quigley, said: “MMI has achieved so much over the past eight years, but none of it would have been possible without the support and collaborative efforts of other organisations who share our values and intent.

“Improving and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of veterinary professionals requires effective communication and input from across the board – there is no quick fix, and we must work together to keep the conversation going.

“Our past projects have allowed us to connect with so many people from across the professions and we are all ultimately working towards the same goal. Our evaluation report aims to encapsulate just how far we’ve come and the impact we have managed to have since our inception, but also to highlight what lessons can be taken forward into the future.

“Our five-year strategy is ambitious, but without that ambition, we wouldn’t have been able to get to where we are today. The veterinary landscape, and indeed, the mental health and societal landscapes, have evolved considerably over the past few years and will continue to do so. We have achieved a lot, but there is always room for improvement, and it is important that we remain agile and adaptable to change, while continuing to listen to those with lived experience of the issues we seek to address.

“I would like to personally thank everyone who has been involved in our various projects up until now and who has helped to guide our progress, in particular the members of the MMI Taskforce and everyone who contributed to our consultation. Mind Matters is for you, our veterinary professionals, and I hope you will continue to engage with our work in the years to come, so we can continue to grow and evolve to support as many people to thrive as possible.”

To view the Mind Matters 5 Year Strategy ‘The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative: The next 5 years’, and the Evaluation ‘The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative: The story so far…’ visit our resource page at

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Mind Matters reminds veterinary mental health researchers of upcoming funding and knowledge exchange opportunities

MMI is reminding veterinary mental health researchers of opportunities to participate in two key research initiatives, which aim to support the development of mental health research within the veterinary field.

The first of the initiatives is the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant – a £20,000 grant which was set up in memory of vet, RCVS Council member and mental health campaigner Sarah Brown in 2019, to fund research into veterinary mental health. MMI is inviting researchers at all career stages to apply for the grant and any applications relevant to veterinary mental health are welcome. The application deadline has now been extended to 5pm on Thursday 15 June.

The second initiative is the biennial Mind Matters Mental Health Research Symposium, taking place this autumn in Manchester. MMI are calling on UK and international researchers working in the field of veterinary mental health and wellbeing to submit abstracts of up to 250 words in order to share their research at the Symposium. Researchers can choose to either give a 15-minute presentation on the day, or to present a poster which will be displayed at the venue for people to view throughout the lunch break. Again, researchers from all backgrounds and career stages are encouraged to apply, and projects can be based around any area of mental health and wellbeing within the veterinary professions. The abstract submission deadline for this has also been extended, to Thursday 1 June.

Mind Matters Manager, Lisa Quigley, said “Mental health research is of critical importance and forms a significant part of our work at MMI.

“Since our inception, we have seen substantial growth in the number of veterinary mental health research projects coming to fruition and are proud to be supporting researchers in any way we can.

“Our Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant is now entering it’s fifth year and it has been really rewarding to see the impact that these projects have had, both in theory and practice. Past topics have included neurodiversity, moral injury and racism, to name a few, and we look forward to funding more important research this coming year.

“Our symposium is of equal importance and brings together veterinary researchers from across the globe to share their work. The winner of our 2023 Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant will also receive their award at the symposium, and previous winners will also be in attendance to present their research. The symposium offers a fantastic opportunity to showcase all the vital work currently taking place in the veterinary mental health research field, and we strongly encourage anybody working on a relevant project to get involved.”

For more information on the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant and how to apply, visit our MMI Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant page.

For further information on the Mind Matters Mental Health Research Symposium and how to submit and abstract, visit our MMI Symposium page.

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Call for mental health researchers to submit abstracts for MMI Symposium 2023

MMI is calling on UK and international researchers working in the field of mental health and wellbeing in the veterinary professions to submit their abstracts for the upcoming Mind Matters Mental Health Research Symposium, taking place this autumn.

The event, which will be taking place on Tuesday 10 October at the Midland Hotel, Manchester, aims to bring together researchers from across the world who are interested in all aspects of the mental health and wellbeing of veterinary professionals.

MMI is asking researchers to submit abstracts of up to 250 words to share their research at the Symposium. They can choose to either give a 15 minute presentation on the day, or to present a poster which will be displayed at the venue for people to view at lunchtime. Researchers from all backgrounds and career stages are encouraged to apply and projects can be based around any area of mental health and wellbeing within the veterinary professions. This includes research projects focussing on the mental health and wellbeing of veterinary nurses and other members of the veterinary team.

Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters Manager, said: “Veterinary mental health research remains of vital importance. Since MMI’s inception we have been heartened to see the field attract ever-increasing numbers of skilled, compassionate researchers from across the UK and beyond – many of whom have a personal connection to the professions. We know they care deeply about the work they do to improve our understanding of veterinary mental health challenges, and the things that can help.

“Our last symposium, held online in 2021, saw some of the top researchers in veterinary mental health present their work on topics ranging from cyberbullying and exercise to the effectiveness of mental health support apps and the importance of mindset. We also heard progress reports from our Sarah Brown research grant winners, whose outstanding work in Sarah’s memory is already making a tangible difference to the everyday lives of those working in the veterinary professions. We look forward to returning to an in-person event for 2023, and welcoming all members of the veterinary mental health research community to Manchester.

“I would also like to thank Dr Rosie Allister, member of our Mind Matters Taskforce and veterinary mental health researcher, who will once again be supporting us in the organisation of the Symposium. As with previous years, we are committed to making the MMI Mental Health Research Symposium a supportive and inclusive event, particularly for early career researchers. We encourage abstract submissions from researchers at all stages of their career, including students.”

Researchers interested in participating in the symposium should submit abstracts no longer than 250 words including:

  • background;
  • clear and explicit aims and objectives;
  • hypotheses or research questions;
  • methods;
  • results;
  • discussion;
  • and conclusion.

All abstracts should be submitted via the Mind Matter Symposium abstract submission form by Monday 1 May which is available to access via the dedicated Mind Matters Symposium page. Please note, early applications are encouraged as speaking slots are limited.

Successful applicants will be notified after the application deadline and will also receive complimentary registration for the Symposium.

Those who have any further questions about submitting an abstract can contact Lisa Quigley on

The full agenda for the Symposium, including how to sign up to attend, will be published in the summer.

MMI to run Neurodiversity stream at BSAVA Congress

MMI have partnered with the British Small Animal Veterinary Association to run a neurodiversity stream as part of the annual BSAVA Congress.

The congress, which is due to take place at the Manchester Central Convention Complex from 23 – 25 March 2023, will include over 130 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) covering a variety of disciplines and learning styles – from lectures and panel discussions to interactive sessions and free practical CPD workshops.

The neurodiversity stream will be held in the Exchange Auditorium on Friday 24 March and will consist of a number of sessions covering a wide range of sessions surrounding neurodiversity, including the keynote speech entitled ‘Neurodiversity and integration: bridging two worlds’ to be given by founding director of ADHD Girls, Samantha Hiew. Other sessions on neurodiversity throughout the day include:

  • Exploring neurodiversity
  • Different not less
  • Neurodiversity – the challenges of diagnosis
  • Neurodiversity in veterinary teams – the importance of allyship
  • Communication considerations
  • Supporting neurodivergent clients
  • Supporting neurodivergent vet and vet nursing students
  • Moving forward – how can we cultivate more inclusive working?

Mind Matters Initiative Manager, Lisa Quigley, said: “MMI is delighted to be partnering with BSAVA to run this incredibly important stream. It is estimated that around 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent and whilst there is definitely more awareness surrounding the benefits of embracing a neurodivergent workforce and supporting neurodivergent individuals within the workplace, there is still much more to be done.

“Neurodiversity simply means that the brain functions, learns and processes information in a slightly different way to those who are considered neurotypical. Conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders come under the neurodivergent umbrella.

“At MMI, we have been keen to bring neurodiversity to the forefront of our work. In the past year this has included the creation of our Neurodiversity Resource Hub, as well as funding a research project into identifying and addressing workplace stressors for autistic veterinary professionals.

“There is huge strength to be found in diversity of thinking, however, we know that neurodivergent individuals may sometimes face challenges. It is therefore vital to ensure that all individuals working in the veterinary professions feel supported to be who they are in order to thrive in the workplace.

“We are really looking forward to continuing our neurodiversity work in the future and would like to thank the BSAVA for continuing to provide a platform for these vital conversations.”

Andy Green, Vice Chair of the BSAVA Congress Programme Committee said: “It has never been more important to understand, connect with and support all the members of our veterinary teams, of whom a considerable number may be neurodivergent. The same is true for many pet owners and clients.

“We are delighted to be able to provide a platform in partnership with the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative to explore this important subject and help to promote a greater understanding of what it actually means to be neurodivergent, along with practical ways that practices can understand, embrace and support neurodivergent members of the work force and community.”

Tickets for BSAVA Congress are available on the BSAVA Congress website and click the following links to visit our MMI Neurodiversity Resource Hub and for information on the autism research project.

Graphic illustration of workplace activity with VN Futures and MMI logos

Mind Matters and VN Futures expand training collaboration

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) and VN Futures project are expanding their training collaboration to include self-compassion and anxiety workshops.

MMI and VN Futures have a long-standing working relationship and their common aims have seen them work together in a number of different capacities over the past few years. This has included undertaking joint research into the wellbeing and mental health of veterinary nurses, running an online student wellbeing discussion forum and, as part of their recent training collaboration, coming together to expand the reach of MMI’s civility and psychological safety training sessions.

The newest addition to the training collaboration includes a number of new evidence-based workshops on anxiety and self-compassion.  

Mind Matters Initiative Manager, Lisa Quigley, said: “We know that working in the veterinary professions is challenging and evidence shows that veterinary professionals are at higher risk of suffering from common mental health problems such as anxiety and burnout than that of the general population.

“Using insights gathered from previous joint VN Futures and MMI ventures, we are proud to be expanding our training collaboration to provide targeted support which has the capacity to actively make a tangible difference to the professions.

“When it comes to mental health, wellbeing, and the curation of positive workplace cultures, there is no quick fix – it takes time and dedication from all involved. We are grateful for the support of VN Futures as we work together to help create this positive shift.”

Jill Macdonald, VN Futures Project Lead, said: “At VN Futures, we aim to ensure that veterinary nursing is a vibrant, rewarding and sustainable profession and supporting mental health and wellbeing is a vital part of this. Veterinary nurses are an essential part of the veterinary team and creating workplaces where the entire team is able to thrive and feel valued and respected is of utmost importance. Working with MMI to expand the reach of the civility and psychological safety training sessions has proven effective in promoting this concept.

“Like our civility and psychological safety training, our new anxiety and self-compassion workshops are open to everyone in the veterinary team and are designed to provide people with the skills needed to create long lasting, sustainable positive change.

“We hope delegates will find the sessions useful and will apply the skills they have learned to support themselves and those around them both now and in the future.”

Initial training dates are as listed below and will take place in person (sessions cost £15 per person):

For more training sessions, including the joint MMI and VN Futures Civility and Psychological Safety training sessions, visit our training page.

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Mind Matters opens applications for £20,000 mental health research grant

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) is inviting veterinary mental health researchers to apply for the 2023 Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant.

The £20,000 grant, which was set up in memory of vet, RCVS Council member and mental health campaigner Sarah Brown, has been awarded every year since 2019 and has so far provided funding for 5 innovative research projects, each of which focus on different areas of mental health within the veterinary professions. Past project topics have included:

As well as receiving funding for their research, previous winners have had opportunities to present their findings at conferences, including the MMI Symposium, and received support from the MMI and the RCVS to help promote their study and recruit volunteers.

Applications on an any topic relevant to veterinary mental health are welcome. However, in line with the original aim of the Sarah Brown grants and the strategic aims of MMI, particular interest will be shown to projects surrounding the following themes and topics:

  • veterinary suicide
  • those with a strong focus on mental health, rather than wellbeing/wellness
  • veterinary nurses, veterinary nursing students, and non-veterinary member of the practice team (e.g. receptionists)
  • understanding experiences of minoritised groups within the veterinary team
  • projects led by those who typically receive fewer opportunities in academia (e.g. student, minoritised groups, those with lived experience of mental health problems)

Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters Initiative Manager, said: “Over the past four years, we have been fortunate to support some truly fantastic research projects within the veterinary mental health sphere. Sarah was a strong mental health and wellbeing advocate with a particular passion for ensuring that those working in the veterinary professions were confident, happy, resilient and well supported. We are grateful to Sarah’s family for giving us their blessing and support to help continue her legacy through the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant.

“The grant is open to anyone with a relevant research idea, whether that be a highly experienced researcher, or someone just starting out in their career. All applications are anonymised and will be judged based on their quality, originality and relevance to the profession.

“Mental health research is of vital importance, both in theory and practice, and forms a vital part of our work at MMI. Our past projects have already proven to have real tangible benefits to veterinary teams and we look forward to seeing how our research projects will continue to drive positive change in the future.”

Anyone wishing to apply for the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant can find more information on the dedicated Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant page, where an application form is also available to download. Applications should be sent to Lisa Quigley on by 5pm on Wednesday 31 May 2023. The award will be formally presented at the 2023 Mind Matters Mental Health Research Symposium taking place in November 2023, where the winner will also be invited to present their work.

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MMI releases new mental health and wellbeing training opportunities for 2023

Mind Matters Initiative has developed a range of new mental health and wellbeing training opportunities for the veterinary professions for 2023.

Expanding on the training available in autumn 2022, which was launched based on the results of an extensive training pilot, MMI is offering a total of 14 sessions taking place both online and in person over the next few months. Sessions will be running from January to April 2023. The courses will cover areas that have been identified as priority topics from previous MMI surveys, feedback from the professions, and evaluation of the training pilots.

Mind Matters Initiative Manager, Lisa Quigley, said: “Last year was a busy year for MMI and saw the successful launch of our brand new training programme. Ensuring that our new training offering was comprehensive and matched the needs of the professions was a top priority for 2022 and will continue to be so for 2023.

“Mental health and wellbeing are impacted by a whole host of structural and societal factors and maintaining a healthy workforce goes far beyond supporting people on an individual level. Whilst it is undoubtedly important to provide people with the skills they need to look after themselves, we are aiming to expand on this by providing individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to recognise and address wider collective issues. For example, the importance of creating and maintaining a positive workplace culture.

“We hope those attending our sessions find them useful and we will, of course, continue to take on feedback to ensure our training remains as relevant and impactful as possible.”

Session dates and specific topics are as follows and are available to book via our training page:

Mental Health First Aid (£30 in-person)

9am – 5pm

Psychological Safety and Civility (£20 in-person, £15 online)

In-person – 9am – 4pm

Online – 9am – 1pm

Sustaining Your Emotional Health (£15 in-person)

2pm – 5pm

For more information on the training courses, visit our training page.

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MMI Campfire Chats Return for Fourth Series of Topical Discussions 

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative is inviting veterinary professionals to join their fourth series of Campfire Chats commencing this autumn.

The Campfire Chats, which were first set up in January 2021, provide veterinary professionals with the opportunity to come together to chat about important topics impacting their mental health and wellbeing.

Since their inception, the chats have continued to grow in popularity and have covered a wide range of topics, from stress and loneliness to creativity and climate change anxiety.

The upcoming sessions are as follows:

  • Tuesday 11 October 2022 7pm to 8pm: Social Media and Mental Health – this discussion will delve into the mental health benefits and challenges of social media, and how to manage these. Panel guests for this session include Lou Northway RVN (@louthevetnurse), Dr Bolu Eso MRCVS, and Dr Jeffrey Lambert (University of Bath).
  • Wednesday 9 November 7pm to 8pm: Letting Go of Perfect this chat will explore the topic of perfectionism – how to recognise it, how to learn navigate it, and the ways in which it can impact your mental wellbeing. Panellists include Dr Fabian Rivers MRCVS (Dready Vet), Dr Elisa Lewis (London South Bank University), and Professor Andrew Hill (York St John University).
  • Wednesday 30 November 7pm to 8pm: Maintaining Balance – this discussion will explore many faces of maintaining balance, the ways in which we can try to implement it into busy schedules, and why finding an individual sense of balance is so important. Panellists include Laura Kidd MRCVS (Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary studies, Edinburgh), and Lucy Grieve MRCVS (British Equine Veterinary Association).

An additional campfire chat is also due to be run in conjunction with the RCVS Diversity and Inclusion Group, discussing the recently published RCVS/VSC (Veterinary Schools Council) BAME Student Support Working Group report. Details for this are yet to be confirmed.

Angharad Belcher, Director of the Mind Matters Initiative, commented: “We are delighted to be bringing back our Campfire Chats for a fourth series. It’s hugely important that we are able to provide the professions with a space to talk openly and honestly about the key issues impacting their mental health and wellbeing in a secure, yet relaxed, environment. We all lead such hectic lives and taking the time to come together and either discuss, or simply listen to, each other’s experiences can be really beneficial.”

“The sessions are open to the whole veterinary team and are free to attend. We like to keep the sessions as relaxed as possible, so whilst the sessions aren’t recorded, we do provide a roundup of all the key information discussed after each session. These round ups can be accessed via the Campfire Chats resource page on the MMI website or will be sent directly to you after the session.”

All members of the veterinary profession can sign up to attend the Campfire Chats via the MMI Events page.

For further information about the sessions, contact Abi Hanson, Mind Matters Initiative Officer, on

Graphic illustration of workplace activity with VN Futures and MMI logos

MMI and VN Futures join forces on latest civility training collaboration

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has announced a new civility training collaboration with the RCVS VN Futures project to help tackle incivility in the workplace. The training will be delivered by VetLed.

Having worked with VetLed previously in the year to deliver six successful online civility training sessions, MMI and VN Futures are collaborating to extend the reach of these sessions by providing both online and in person training in a range of locations across the UK.

The continued delivery of Civility Training sessions comes as part of MMI’s ongoing commitment to promoting the importance of civility and psychological safety in the workplace. A joint survey into the mental health and wellbeing of student and newly qualified veterinary nurses, run by MMI and VN Futures back in August 2021, revealed that 96% of respondents believed that incivility and bullying were serious problems in the profession.

The survey was then proceeded by a Student Veterinary Nursing Discussion Forum, again run by MMI and VN Futures, to give student and newly qualified veterinary nurses, clinical coaches, and educators an opportunity to discuss the key challenges highlighted in the survey. Findings from the forum, published in the Student Veterinary Nursing Discussion Forum Report, show that ‘delegates felt that an overall improvement in workplace culture and professional respect was needed – including fostering better manners in the ways colleagues communicated to each other.’

Angharad Belcher, RCVS Director of the Advancement of the Professions and the Mind Matters Initiative, said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with VN Futures to continue the delivery of these hugely important civility training sessions. Workplace culture has an enormous impact on mental health and it is vital that all members of the practice team are respected, listened to, and feel able to speak out.

“Our previous civility training sessions proved to be hugely popular and received excellent feedback, so we’re really excited to be able to bring them to a wider audience. I would like to thank VetLed and VN Futures for their ongoing dedication and support.”

Jill Macdonald RVN, VN Futures Lead, said: “It’s really exciting to be working with MMI and VetLed on this latest series of Civility training. Having been involved with both the survey and the forum last year, we, like MMI, are fiercely committed to creating psychologically safe workplaces for all. Mental health and workplace culture are inextricably linked, so hopefully running these sessions throughout the UK will have a long lasting ripple effect in improving practice culture up and down the country.”

There will be a total of twelve in person and online sessions running between October 2022 and April 2023 which will be open to the entire veterinary team. The civility training sessions are being subsidised by MMI with in person training costing £50 per person per session, and online training costing £20 per person per session.

Sessions currently available to book are as follows:

Online – 9am – 1pm

In-person – 9am – 4pm

For more information and to book, please visit the MMI training page.

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MMI sponsors VetLed’s latest Interactive Veterinary Nurse Think Tank series

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) is sponsoring the latest series of Veterinary Nurse Think Tanks, run by VetLed, a leading provider of ‘human factors’ skills training for veterinary professionals, supported by the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA).

The Veterinary Nurse Think Tank series is running as part of an ongoing collaboration between MMI and VetLed, aiming to tackle incivility in the workplace and encourage working environments which make wellbeing a priority.

So far, the collaboration has included the running of six fully-funded civility training sessions, a full day of free psychological safety workshops as part of VetLed’s Safe to Speak Up campaign, and the first of four Veterinary Nurse Think Tanks.

VetLed first established the Veterinary Nurse Think Tanks in 2021, to provide a safe and dynamic space for veterinary nurses to explore veterinary ‘human factors’ – an established discipline which utilises scientific knowledge about the human body, mind and behaviour to better understand human fundamental capabilities and limitations. Human Factors such as stress, fatigue, and communication barriers can have a huge impact on working culture and, when misunderstood, can stunt positive progress.

According to a 2021 Mind Matters Initiative survey of student veterinary nurses, recently graduated veterinary nurses and clinical coaches, 96% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that bullying and incivility was a serious problem in the profession. A recent VetLed poll of veterinary teams also revealed similar findings, with 97% of those polled having been on the receiving end of incivility in practice.

Based on the findings of the surveys, it was decided that the Think Tank events should focus on four key areas. The first think tank was titled ‘Identity and values’, and the remaining sessions will be focussed on the following:

  • Everyday leadership – Thursday 21 July 2022
  • Innovation and problem solving – Thursday 20 October 2022
  • When things go wrong: The importance of a just culture – Thursday 19 January 2023

Mind Matters Manager, Lisa Quigley, said: “It’s fantastic to be working with VetLed and the BVNA to run these think tanks. Maintaining a positive working culture is essential both for the wellbeing of the practice team, but also for the wellbeing of the animals in their care.”

“Veterinary nurses carry out vital work and are an essential part of the practice team. It’s therefore of utmost importance that they feel empowered and safe to have their voices heard, and supported to drive sustainable, positive change.”

Helen Silver-MacMahon, Research and Development Director at VetLed, said “VetLed is delighted to be collaborating with the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative, supported by the BVNA, to ensure that every nurse has free access to CPD which supports their wellbeing and helps cultivate positive practice cultures.”

“The next Think Tank will focus on everyday leadership, where we will be exploring some of the potential challenges facing aspiring and current veterinary nurse leaders, and the ways in which these challenges can be approached. The session is interactive, so we actively encourage people to share their experiences, to allow us all to learn from and support each other.” The Veterinary Nurse Think Tanks are open to all veterinary nurses, including students. Each session lasts 90 minutes, commencing at 7.30pm. Places are available to book via the MMI Civility Hub.

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MMI awards funding to research project using online compassionate imagery intervention to improve psychological wellbeing of veterinarians

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has awarded £20,000 to a research project investigating the effectiveness of online compassionate imagery intervention in improving the psychological wellbeing of veterinarians.

The funding comes from the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant, which was founded in 2019 in memory of RCVS Council member Sarah Brown, who passed away in 2017. The grant is awarded on a yearly basis, to fund research into the mental health and wellbeing of those working within the veterinary professions.

Past projects have funded vital research into a number of areas, including the mental health impacts of racism, moral injury, farm veterinarian mental health, and an investigation into workplace stressors for autistic veterinarians.

This year’s grant has been awarded to a research team at the University of Surrey, led by Dr Katherine Wakelin, Clinical Psychologist. In clinical practice, the high number of moral challenges faced by veterinary professionals is thought to contribute to poor mental health. In addition to this, due to the rigorous academic requirements needed to enter the profession, perfectionistic traits and self-criticism are common amongst veterinarians and are associated with a range of self-injurious behaviours and psychopathology. Furthermore, perfectionism is seen to enhance veterinarians’ vulnerability to moral distress in relation to moral challenges.

The study will be investigating the effectives of an online Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT) intervention for veterinarian self-criticism and perfectionism. CFT has been developed to target individuals with high levels of self-criticism, who tend to benefit less from traditional cognitive therapies. The intervention was previously found to be acceptable, feasible and show preliminary indications of effectiveness in Wakelin’s (2021) feasibility study sampling 128 veterinarians. Therefore, the funding will be used to build on previous research and run a randomised control trial (RCT) study to establish the effectiveness of this type of intervention compared to a control.

Participants for the RCT will be recruited through The University of Surrey Veterinary Department and via social media. Any student, new graduate or qualified veterinarian will be able to take part, providing they haven’t already participated in the previous feasibility study and are not currently receiving a cognitive or CFT intervention.

On learning that her team had won the award, Dr Katherine Wakelin said “It’s fantastic news to have been awarded the grant. Having the opportunity to grow and build on my previous research is very exciting as my 2021 feasibility study showed very promising results! Now we have an opportunity to test the intervention further using more robust methodology and continue to investigate how the mental wellbeing of veterinarians can be supported.”

Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters Initiative Manager, said “We’re delighted to be awarding this year’s grant to the research team at The University of Surrey. We were impressed by their thorough application and the careful consideration that went into tailoring the research project to veterinary professionals. Perfectionism and self-critique are commonly present amongst veterinarians, and it is important to take these specificities into account when developing effective modes of support.

“We look forward to hearing the outcomes of the research and how we as a profession can use this knowledge to create more targeted mental health support for those working within the professions.”

Dr Katherine Wakelin will be awarded the grant at the RCVS Royal College Day on 8 July.

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MMI to offer free mental health training for student vets and vet nurses

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has announced a new programme of fully-funded Mental Health First Aid training, which will be delivered in partnership with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England.

One of MMI’s key areas of focus is the mental health and wellbeing of students, and the new training programme follows on from previous student mental health work, which includes surveys into the mental health and wellbeing of student VNs and a wellbeing discussions forum; a day-long event of research presentations and talks about a range of areas of student VN mental health.

Participants taking part in the training will need to attend one day of online training and one day of face-to-face training, with all sessions fully funded by MMI. Everyone taking part in the training will learn how to spot the signs that mean someone could be struggling with their mental health, how to support someone who is dealing with a mental health issue and how to embed a culture of mental wellbeing across their vet school and future workplace. Everyone who completes the training will receive a mental health qualification and a certificate to confirm they have completed the course.

Taking place throughout August, the training sessions are being held in cities across the UK to make the in-person training days as accessible as possible. The upcoming training dates and locations are:

Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters Initiative Manager, said: “Students are key to ensuring the veterinary professions continue to have passionate and dedicated vets and vet nurses joining the workforce. It’s vital that we help students to look after their own mental health and teach them how to look out for the wellbeing of their fellow students and future colleagues, and we’re pleased to be expanding our current Mental Health First Aid training programme to students.

“We hope that by providing mental health training for students, and equipping them with wellbeing skills before they start work, we will encourage the next generation of veterinary professionals to champion mental wellbeing in the workplaces, which will help to encourage vet teams that are increasingly supportive and welcoming.”    

Alison Speakman, BSAVA President, said: “BSAVA are delighted to be able to support the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative mental health first aid training courses for students. We are looking forward to holding a course at our Woodrow House headquarters to equip students with the skills to become valuable Mental Health First Aiders within their peer groups and future workplaces.”

Anyone wishing to attend the training can book their place on our training page.

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MMI launches free, online mental health training programme for rural vets

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) will be working with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England to deliver a free, online training programme for vets in isolated and rural areas across the UK, as well as vets working in ambulatory practice.

The training programme has been launched in recognition of some of the challenges that rural and ambulatory vets face, particularly around isolation and loneliness. This programme aims to form a network of UK-wide rural Mental Health First Aiders in the vet profession starting with rural geographies. It will bolster the understanding of common mental health conditions, help individuals identify signs of mental ill-health both in themselves and others, promote self-care and provide the tools for how to effectively support people experiencing poor mental health.

Angharad Belcher, Director of the Mind Matters Initiative, said: “Veterinary surgeons working in rural and ambulatory services are often integral members of their local communities with a deep connection with farmers, animal owners and the wider rural community. However, as MMI-funded research conducted by Scotland’s Rural College with vets has demonstrated, veterinary work in such areas can often be very challenging which is compounded by working alone or having relatively limited contact with professional colleagues.

“Effective early intervention in cases of mental ill-health and distress can have significant impacts, and so this course will arm participants with the relevant knowledge of how to identify mental health issues and will allow them to signpost people to the most effective and relevant sources of help.”

Vicki Cockman, Head of Client Delivery at MHFA England, said: “It is wonderful to see the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon’s commitment to reaching all its vets in the UK, no matter their location. MHFA England is proud to be working with RCVS on this initiative. Our evidence based Mental Health First Aid training gives people an in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing.

“This approach will help vets support the communities that they work closely with and help them manage their own mental health. Those trained will have the confidence to start a conversation, reassure and support a person in distress and the tools to create and consider their own self-care strategies.”

The free training, fully funded by MMI, will be delivered online in four sessions which are each two-and-a-half hours long. They require around 90 mins of work beforehand and the groups will be split into morning and afternoon sessions, both receiving the same training. MMI will be announcing its plans for a rural network shortly and welcomes all veterinary professionals with mental health first aid training, regardless of training provider, to join it.

The dates of the training sessions are Monday 11, Tuesday 12, Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 July. Registrations to join the course need to be made by the 5pm Friday 17 June and can be made via the MMI training page. For those who are unsure about joining the course, MHFA England has organised an online question and answers session ahead of the application date at 7pm on Tuesday 7 June. To attend the Q & A contact Lacey Pitcher, Mind Matters Outreach and Engagement Senior Officer on

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MMI and VMG announce joint initiative to train veterinary managers on mental health in the workplace

A new joint training initiative from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) and the Veterinary Management Group (VMG) will aim to educate veterinary leaders and managers on mental health in the workplace.

The collaboration will be delivered by the VMG’s online learning platform and can either be taken as a free standalone module, or as a module for those already undertaking VMG’s accredited veterinary leadership and management qualifications.

The module will be delivered via online resources and reading materials and two case study-based online workshops delivered by Mind Matters Manager Lisa Quigley to consolidate and contextualise the online learning materials. The first workshop will cover the Equality Act, mental health and reasonable adjustments, while the second will cover return to work for those who have taken time off due to mental ill-health and how to plan for their continued safety and wellness.

Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters Manager, explains: “We’re very thankful to VMG for integrating our mental health training materials onto their online platform and in their popular courses. Attitudes and behaviours towards colleagues with mental ill-health are influenced by those at the top. Direct line managers play an absolutely crucial role in our wellbeing and mental health, therefore equipping managers with these tools is an essential part in improving and supporting the mental health of the veterinary workforce.

“If veterinary managers and leaders have been trained in legal obligations and how to properly support colleagues and reintegrate them back into working life, then we can hopefully see a culture shift throughout the professions to make a place where veterinary professionals can continue to work and indeed thrive as veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.”

The standalone module is expected to be launched soon – if anyone wants to express an interest in taking part in the module they can contact Hannah Perrin, VMG Learning & Development Manager, on or visit the MMI training page.

Further information about the VMG’s veterinary leadership and management course, visit the VMG website.

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MMI marks Mental Health Awareness Week with Creative Connections Competition

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) is marking this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week with the launch of a competition about how we can remain connected with ourselves and others through the power of creativity.

Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 9 to Sunday 15 May 2022) was founded by the Mental Health Foundation 21 years ago and is an annual event to help focus the conversation around mental health on a particular issue that is affecting the nation’s mental health and how it can be alleviated.

This year’s theme is loneliness, an issue that has been recently exacerbated by the pandemic, and will look at the relationship between loneliness and mental ill-health and how making connections with other people and within communities is key to tackling the problem.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, MMI will be focussing on the importance of community, togetherness, and meaningful connections for tackling loneliness within the veterinary community.

Want to get involved?

After the success of MMI’s Mental Health Awareness Week nature photo competition last year, it will be launching another creative contest this year to raise awareness of the impacts of loneliness and the ways in which the veterinary community can come together to tackle it.

The competition, running until Friday 3 June, is open to all members of the veterinary team and will be centred around the theme of Creative Connections. Photographs, artwork, creative writing, or any other media that demonstrates how creativity and ingenuity can bring people together are all welcome. Those who wish to enter the competition should email their entry to the MMI team at, along with a short explanation about the submission, what connection means to them and why it is important for their mental health and wellbeing.

Lisa Quigley, MMI Manager, said: “It is important to remember that loneliness is not necessarily about physical isolation, it is about feeling disconnected emotionally and socially from the world around us even if we are in a crowded room or working a busy shift at a veterinary practice. Covid has significantly added to what’s called by some a ‘loneliness epidemic’, and other factors such as stress, tiredness and lack of confidence or low self-esteem, as well as living with mental health conditions or poor emotional wellbeing, can all add to feelings of loneliness.

“Finding creative ways of forging new connections outside of our usual routines – whether it’s taking up a new or existing hobby or finding a way of talking to people who may be feeling similar – is vital to tackling loneliness. I really look forward to seeing this year’s submissions from the professions and hope that the participation of us and others in this year’s events help people realise they are not alone.”

In addition to the competition, on Thursday 12 May, MMI will be bringing its popular spring 2022 series of Campfire Chats to a close with a Mental Health Awareness Week special, ‘Tackling Loneliness in a Hyperconnected World.’

MMI will also be releasing a short collection of blogs, featuring a range of guest writers from across the veterinary professions, who will be sharing their thoughts on loneliness, the importance of coming together, and their favourite ways of keeping connected.

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New collaboration to empower vet nurses to challenge incivility and encourage sustainable changes in the workplace

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has collaborated with VetLed, a leading provider of Human Factors skills training for veterinary professionals and the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), to lead a series of initiatives that aim to tackle incivility in the workplace and encourage work environments that make employee wellbeing a priority.

The recently launched Civility Training sessions are the first activities of this collaboration that explore how civility can be addressed in the workplace and the impacts that incivility can have across the whole veterinary team. The training was launched in response to MMI research into Student Vet Nurses, which revealed that 96% of student and recently graduated veterinary nurses said that they believed that incivility and bullying were serious problems in the profession.

As well as civility training, MMI and BVNA have collaborated with VetLed on the forthcoming “VetLed Safe to Speak Up campaign” which will launch on 2 May. The campaign aims to empower all members of the veterinary team to talk openly about their mistakes, concerns and new ideas by raising awareness of the importance of psychological safety. Psychological safety is the belief that there won’t be negative repercussions as a result of vocalising thoughts, ideas or concerns, and is an incredibly beneficial value for practices to adopt. Safe to Speak Up will include social media campaign that raises awareness of the benefits of psychological safety and provides advice for how workplaces and individuals can apply psychological safety in their practice.

The Safe to Speak Up campaign will also feature a day of interactive workshops focussed on psychological safety. Taking place on 11 May, the day will include free-to-attend sessions from VetLed that will explain what psychological safety is and how it can be created and maintained in practice. You can book your workshop place here.

The third part of the collaboration will include a series of four Veterinary Nurse Think Tanks; 90-minute interactive learning and discussion sessions that cover key Human Factor themes. The upcoming free workshops include:

Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters Initiative Manager, said: “We have listened carefully to the feedback from our surveys and consultations to ensure we continue to deliver resources that tackle the wellbeing issues that VNs have concerns about. We are pleased to have partnered with two brilliant organisations that are as passionate about improving the mental health and resilience of the profession as we are. Every single vet nurse should feel comfortable and psychologically supported in their role, and we hope that the training and awareness campaigns that we are running over the upcoming year will ensure that more VNs will feel empowered to talk about their mental health and wellbeing at work.”

Alex Taylor, BVNA President, said: “The BVNA are so pleased to be part of the Civility Training, Think Tanks, and Safe to Speak Up Campaign, especially as these fall in line with our current theme of ‘building resilience’. We recognise how important the mental health of veterinary nurses is, not just for their own wellbeing, but for the good of the workforce too. We are very much looking forward to working alongside MMI and Vetled who will help to provide support and guidance on these important areas for veterinary nurses over the next year.”

Helen Silver-MacMahon, Research and Development Director at VetLed, said: “VetLed are delighted to be collaborating with MMI and BNVA to ensure that all members of the veterinary team are able to access training which promotes the importance of civility and psychological safety in practice and enables them to feel and function at their best. We look forward to running four, very special, Think Tanks for veterinary nurses over the coming year and raising awareness of how Human Factors can empower veterinary nurses to lead positive and practical change in practice.”

Visit the MMI Training Page for more on MMI Training offerings and to book onto a VetLed Civility Training session.

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MMI launches a suite of new, free training opportunities for the veterinary professions

We have launched a new suite of free training opportunities for the veterinary team based around feedback received from the professions in our recent consultations and surveys, as well as the MMI strategic aims.

In total, four new courses have been launched, all of which are responding to areas of identified need and aim to improve not only the mental health and wellbeing of individuals, but look at ways of improving workplace culture to the benefit of all in the profession.

The courses, which are all free, are:

  • VetLed Civility Training: this course has been informed by a survey conducted in 2021 with student veterinary nurses, recently-qualified RVNs, and clinical coaches which found that 96% of respondents felt bullying and incivility was a problem in the professions. The interactive training sessions will look at the importance of civility in practice, how to recognise incivility and understand its impacts, and identify the ways in incivility can successfully be addressed.
  • Introduction to diversity, equity, inclusion and unconscious bias: this training course aligns with the MMI strategic aim that recognises how mental health and wellbeing is inextricably linked with ensuring people from all backgrounds are treated equally and fairly and are made to feel welcome and included in the veterinary workplace. The workshops are run by The Hobbs Consultancy and will raise awareness of the challenges in this area, provide information and practical tips on how to reduce unconscious bias, and ultimately improve overall working culture.
  • Managing stress in veterinary practice: this course is based around the concept of ‘mental fitness’, which is defined as the capacity to respond to life’s challenges with a positive rather than a negative mindset. The three hour course is run by equine vet Mark Tabachnik, the Clinical Director of IVC Evidensia who is also a professional mental health coach, and recognises the stressful nature of veterinary work while looking at the neuroscience of stress and how the professions can use and react to stress in a positive way.
  • Inclusive leadership: this course, also run by The Hobbs Consultancy, will support veterinary leaders in creating a more inclusive workplace, recognising that leaders are the key actors in establishing compassionate and inclusive working environments for all. This workshop will provide practical tips on how to adopt an inclusive leadership style, and explore the ways in which these behaviours pave the way for an inclusive workplace culture in which teams can thrive.

Speaking of the launch of these new training opportunities, MMI Manager Lisa Quigley commented: “We’ve already seen an amazing response from the professions to these courses and so thank you to all those who have signed up so far. Some of our courses are now fully booked and so to those who haven’t yet had the opportunity, rest assured that more dates will be forthcoming.

“I am really proud of this new tranche of training. Whereas our previous training has focused on the individual experience, for example, mental health awareness and resilience, these new courses recognise that individual instances of poor mental health and wellbeing can often be caused by systemic issues – whether that’s a poor workplace culture where bullying and incivility thrive, or discrimination on account of someone’s protected characteristics.

“I do hope those attending these courses find them useful and we will, of course, be taking on any feedback so that we can continue to develop and improve them as we go along.”

The full range of courses, including the dates and times and details on how to register, can be found on our training webpage.

We’d love to hear the feedback you have about any of the courses on

MMI celebrates neurodiversity in the veterinary professions with range of new initiatives and events

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) will be marking Neurodiversity Celebration Week (21 to 27 March) by launching a new ‘neurodiversity resource hub’ area of its website and adding new modules on the topic to its popular MMI Kite App.

Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences, and the neurodiversity resource hub aims to help members of the veterinary professions better understand how, for over one million people in the UK, neurological differences mean they learn and think in a way that is different to what is considered ‘neurotypical’.

Among the resources contained in the hub is information about neurological conditions closely associated with neurodivergence such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyspraxia and dyslexia, as well as information for employers about neurodiversity, including inclusive working tools and sources of government support.

A new ‘kite’ with six new modules are also being added to the MMI Kite App – a specialist microlearning platform for topics related to veterinary wellbeing – that deal specifically with issues related to neurodiversity. The six modules cover: what is neurodiversity; the importance of talking about neurodiversity; different types of neurodiversity; bespoke considerations for neurodivergent individuals; how neurodivergence can lead to innovation through thinking differently; and, exploring further how different brains work and how we can make our brains work best for us.

During the course of Neurodiversity Celebration Week the MMI website will also be publishing a blog by Dr Kirstie Pickles, Clinical Assistant Professor in Equine Medicine at the University of Nottingham, about her current MMI-funded research investigating the various workplace stressors that affect autistic veterinary professionals and what adjustments can be introduced to mitigate these stressors.

Furthermore, during the Wellbeing Zone at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress on Saturday 26 March between 3pm and 4pm, MMI has organised a discussion session on neurodiversity. The discussion will be led by Roxanne Hobbs, a consultant in workplace inclusion particularly around neurodiversity, and will look at how to nurture and cultivate neurodiversity in the veterinary professions.

Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters Manager, said: “As a project focused on the mental health and wellbeing of veterinary professionals, the Mind Matters project has a commitment to recognising and providing a space for all forms of diversity, and so we are very glad to be supporting Neurodiversity Celebration Week again this year. This commitment to diversity will form a key part of our forthcoming strategic plan, and this mission has also recently been strengthened by the findings of both our recent survey n our strategic proposals, and the survey with student VNs from last year which identified this as an area where people wanted more support.

“We know that different brains function differently and that this isn’t wrong or problematic, but represents the many different ways of understanding, thinking and learning that we all encounter in work and in life. There is huge strength to be found in diversity of thinking, however, we know that neurodivergent individuals may sometimes face challenges, and so  it is vital to ensure that all individuals working in the veterinary professions feel supported to be who they are in order to thrive in the workplace.

“We hope that our neurodiversity resource hub and our other initiatives during Neurodiversity Celebration Week will be useful source of information for everyone and will aid people in understanding neurodivergence, how it can manifest and how it can be supported in the workplace and educational settings.”

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New report released detailing mental health research presented at third Mind Matters Initiative Symposium

A report has been published detailing the proceedings of last November’s Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) Research Symposium, where attendees from across the veterinary professions joined MMI for a day of virtual talks given by mental health and wellbeing researchers from across the globe.

The symposium, which took place on 24 November 2021, was introduced by Professor Susan Dawson, Chair of the Mind Matters Taskforce, who welcomed almost 100 delegates to the first MMI Symposium held entirely online.

The plenary speaker was Professor Rory O’Connor, Chair of Health Psychology at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health & Wellbeing whose talk, ‘When it is darkest: understanding suicide risk’ opened the day with an outline of his 25 years of work looking into suicide prevention. Throughout his talk, Rory discussed his recent investigation into the immediate and medium-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s mental health and wellbeing, the science behind the Integrated Motivational-Volitional (IMV) models of suicidal behaviour and how to reduce the risk of suicidal ideation turning into suicidal action. Rory also touched on how vets are three to four times more likely than the general population to die by suicide.

Professor O’Connor said: “In the last 10 to 15 years there has been an increased focus in particular on psychological and psycho-social interventions for helping people who are suicidal. Although suicide is complex, interventions, even brief interventions, can be effective.”

There were also presentations from the research teams who had been awarded the MMI’s Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant in 2019 and 2020. The grant is a £20,000 fund that has been given every year since 2019 to a research project (or projects) that plan to investigate an area of veterinary mental health. The teams that presented their findings were:

  • Dr Victoria Crossley and Dr Navaratnam Partheeban Experiences of racism and its impacts on mental wellbeing in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people working and studying in the UK veterinary sector. Their talk outlined the lack of diversity in the veterinary professions and how their research aimed to understand how experiences of racism impacted BAME people working and studying in the veterinary sector.
  • Dr Victoria Williamson – Experiences and impact of moral injury in UK veterinary professional wellbeing. This talk outlined what moral injury was, how experiencing it could impact a person’s mental health and how morally injurious events impacted veterinary teams’ mental wellbeing.
  • Dr Kate Stephen – How farm vets cope: An exploration of how vets cope with the daily challenges of farm animal practice and how best these coping mechanisms might be developed into tools which can be easily accessed by the livestock veterinary community. This talk outlined what Kate’s team found in interviews with 31 farm vets, including students who had recently moved from vet school to farm practice. Their research found there were three ‘trigger points’ which led to a farm vet’s mental health deteriorating, which Kate discussed in detail in her talk. She concluded by outlining what employers could do to support the work/life balance of farm vets better.

The Sarah Brown Mental Health Grant talks were followed by a series of presentations from researchers and research teams from across the world. The talks were split into a number of streams spanning the morning and afternoon sessions, giving attendees the opportunity to choose which sessions they wanted to listen to. The presentations were:

  • Camille K Y Chan from the University of Hong Kong: Cyberbullying and mental wellbeing of veterinarians in Hong Kong;
  • Makenzie Peterson MSc from Wellbeing at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC): Veterinary intern and resident wellbeing;
  • Dr Nadine Hamilton: Understanding and supporting veterinary mental health;
  • Dr Brad Hill from the University of Nottingham: Integrated mental health awareness in the veterinary undergraduate curriculum;
  • Sabine Tötemeyer from the University of Nottingham: Perception and impact of online mental health awareness teaching in year one during the pandemic;
  • Fergus Mitchell a vet student from the University of Nottingham: The effects of an exercise programme on the mental wellbeing of veterinary students;
  • Anna Garrity from Medivet, Orrell Park: Do registered veterinary nurses feel stigmatised by acknowledging stress and accessing support?;
  • Mark Turner, independent quality improvement researcher: The relationship between patient safety culture and staff burnout. conundrum or cure?
  • Charlotte Bullard from the British Veterinary Nursing Association: Mindset, resilience and perception of reactions to workplace challenge in RVNs;
  • Kris van den Bogaard from MSD Animal Health: Explanatory research on satisfaction in the Dutch veterinary practice;
  • Dr Kirstie Pickles from the University of Nottingham: Students’ perceptions of using two mental health apps during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Sabine Tötemeyer and Georgina Bladon from the University of Nottingham: On using a co-created interactive game to engage students with mental health awareness;
  • Sharon Cooksey, PhD student at the University of Liverpool: Emotional intelligence and its relationship with work engagement amongst veterinary surgeons in UK veterinary practice;

The day concluded with a talk by Professor Susan Dawson, who gave an overview of what MMI had achieved since its launch in 2015, and the ambitious plans MMI has for its next five-year strategy with its focus on: research; supporting students; the veterinary nursing profession; equality, diversity, inclusion & civility; and widening the conversation beyond mental health awareness. A consultation on the MMI Strategy is currently ongoing and can be accessed via our resources page.

Susan ended the day by explaining that MMI would continue to work with different organisations from across the veterinary industry to keep mental health at the forefront of people’s minds, to break down stigma and move towards a more positive future for the professions.

The full report of the day’s talks can be found here.

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Time to talk about important issues with new series of MMI Campfire Chats

To coincide with Mind’s Time to Talk Day (Thursday 3 February 2022), a day that encourages people to talk openly with friends and family about mental health, we are announcing a new series of our popular Campfire Chats.

This series of informal discussions on matters related to veterinary health and wellbeing that was successfully launched and ran for two series last year. The new series comprises six online discussions taking place over the course of the spring, covering everything from diversity to creativity to identity.

The upcoming programme of events is as follows:

  • Tuesday 1 March 2022 7pm to 8pm: Celebrating diversity – this discussion is chaired by Gurpreet Gill, RCVS Leadership & Inclusion Manager, and takes place on the United Nation’s Zero Discrimination Day. Panel members Lacey Pitcher RVN, Dr Olivia Anderson-Nathan MRCVS and Samantha Payne RVN will be discussing what celebrating diversity means to people, exploring how this links to mental health, and sharing their thoughts on why – and how – the professions should be working towards greater inclusivity, both in and out of the workplace.
  • Monday 21 March 2022 7pm to 8pm: The joy of creativity – this discussion will look at why creativity is so important for people’s lives and how it can be used to support mental health and wellbeing with a panel comprising Dr Silvia Janksa MRCVS and Olivia Oginska MRCVS.
  • Tuesday 5 April 2022 7pm to 8pm: Overcoming self-doubt and stressing out – timed to coincide with the start of Stress Awareness Month in April, this discussion will consider the main causes of stress in the veterinary workforce and how this may have shifted throughout the pandemic. The discussion will encompass coping strategies, the ways in which stress can be channelled in a more constructive way, and overcoming feelings of self-doubt.
  • Thursday 21 April 2022 7pm to 8pm: Identity – who am I away from work? –  with the multi-layered nature of identity in mind, this discussion will consider to what extent veterinary professionals should let their careers define them, the importance of understanding oneself in and out of a work setting, and how people can learn to value, accept, and appreciate their whole selves.
  • Tuesday 3 May 2022 7pm to 8pm: Saying goodbye…letting go and learning to grow – this discussion will consider how best to cope with the various types of loss that may be encountered in an individual’s professional and personal life, and how to learn, adapt and grow from these losses.
  • Thursday 12 May 2022 7pm to 8pm: Tackling loneliness in a hyperconnected world – this event takes place during Mental Health Awareness Week, for which the theme  this year is loneliness – its mental health impact and how it has been exacerbated by the pandemic. This Campfire Chat will discuss why meaningful connection and having a sense of belonging matters, and how individuals and communities can tackle loneliness in a hyperconnected world.

Angharad Belcher, Director of the Mind Matters Initiative, commented: “We are very glad to be launching this new series of Campfire Chats on Time for Talk Day. Our topics for this year are based on the ideas that we have received from previous attendees. We all lead busy professional and personal lives and sometimes it means that self-care, which includes talking to others about how we’re feeling and about issues that we find important to us, can fall by the wayside.

“Our Campfire Chats offer a perfect opportunity – and excuse – to take a bit of time out of your schedule to engage in a structured but informal discussion about all manner of subjects, expertly led by a chair and panel with experience, lived and otherwise, on the topic being talked about.

“These events are for the whole veterinary team, we keep the sessions very informal, and there is also the opportunity to share or ask questions of the panel. If you’ve not attended before then please sign up, and if you have then we look forward to welcoming you back.”

Members of the professions can sign up to the first session of the new series of Campfire Chats. More information about the later events will be put online as and when details are confirmed.

For further information about the events contact Abi Hanson, Mind Matters Initiative Officer, on