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Mind Matters Initiative trials mental health awareness courses

We are trialling a series of mental health awareness courses for members of the practice team over the coming weeks.

The Mind Matters Initiative aims to make a real difference to those in the veterinary team struggling with mental health issues.

Mental ill-health will affect one in four people in the UK over the next 12 months. There are particular issues within the veterinary team, with elevated rates of suicide compared with the population at large, and patterns of distress, anxiety and depression, among other illnesses.

The training aims to help individuals better understand the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health and know how to communicate with people they are concerned about. They are not counselling courses, but provide basic information about how to manage important first conversations, and understand how to point people to relevant sources of professional help. The training also offers tips on stress management and staying well.

The trial will comprise four courses, with variations in location, duration, time of day and course provider.

Following the trial an assessment will be made about which course type(s) worked best and a series rolled out across the UK next year.

The dates are as follows, please register via Eventbrite using the links underneath each event:


Venue: Holiday Inn, Winchester, Telegraph Way, Morn Hill, Winchester SO21 1HZ

Date: 23 November 2015

Time: 2pm-5pm



Venue: Holt Lodge Hotel, Wrexham Road, Wrexham  LL13 9SW

Date: 27 November 2015

Time: 1.30pm-4.30pm



Venue: Newcastle Marriott, Gosforth Park, High Gosforth Park, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 5HN

Date: 30 November 2015

Time: 9am-5pm

Lunch provided



Venue: Ramada Coventry, The Butts, Earlsdon Coventry West Midlands CV1 3GG

Date: 8 December 2015

Time: 6pm-9.30pm

A buffet supper will be served from 6pm with the course starting at 6.30pm



“The courses are open to all members of the veterinary practice team, or veterinary surgeons or nurses working in other environments,” explains Lizzie Lockett, MMI Project Director.

“We would ideally like two people from each participating workplace to attend, with one being a senior person within the organisation, as we wish to ensure that those attending are able to cascade information across the organisation effectively when they return, and are well supported themselves.

“However, it’s appreciated that in some practices this may not be possible, so it should not be seen as a barrier to attending.”

The courses, worth about £175 per delegate, are free to attend as they are part of a trial, but we will require feedback from the delegates to help assess how effective the course has been.

The training can be considered as continuing professional development.


About the courses

The Winchester and Newcastle courses are run by Mental Health First Aid England. MHFA came to England in 2007 and was developed and launched under the Department of Health: National Institute of Mental Health in England (NIMHE) as part of a national approach to improving public mental health. In 2009 it became a Community Interest Company (CIC).

Mental Health First Aid is an educational course which teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health issue. In the same way as we learn physical first aid, Mental Health First Aid teaches you how to recognise those crucial warning signs of mental ill health.

Developed in Australia in 2000 and now internationally recognised in 23 countries, the MHFA course teaches people how to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues, provide help on a first aid basis and effectively guide someone towards the right support services.

To date MHFA has trained over 1,200 instructors in England who have delivered the MHFA courses to over 100,000 people.


The Wrexham and Coventry courses are run by Connecting with People. It is evidence-based training and has been co-designed by healthcare practitioners, academics and senior business leaders who have worked in high pressure organisations.

The training is based on the latest medical research and now forms part of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ (RCPsych) education programme and is a key module on the Royal College of General Practitioners’ (RCGP) accredited Primary Care Mental Health Education (PRIMHE) Diploma in Mental Health.

It is a founding project within the College of Medicine. Connecting with People is also cited in the RCPsych College Report on self-harm and suicide and has secured the support of the RCGP/RCPsych Primary Care Mental Health Forum and the RCGP Rural and Remote Forum.

If you have any questions, please contact Mind Matters Project Director Lizzie Lockett, on l.lockett@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0725.