Tag Archive for: event

Graphic of a a log fire on a green MMI background

Gather round for our latest series of Campfire Chats

We are delighted to announce the return of our Campfire Chats this winter. Once again, we are inviting veterinary professionals to come together to engage in informal panel discussions on matters related to veterinary mental health and wellbeing.

Back by popular demand, the chats, which were first introduced back in 2021, are now returning for a fifth series and will offer all those working within the veterinary professions a chance to pause, reflect, and learn from each other’s experiences.

The first session in the series, ‘Self-care through Winter’, will take place online on Wednesday 13 December from 7pm – 8pm. It is open to all members of the veterinary professions including veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, students, practice managers, receptionists and everyone else who works in the field of animal health.

Advancement of the Professions and Mind Matters Director, Angharad Belcher, said: “We are really looking forward to bringing back our Campfire Chats, which offer a safe space for the veterinary community to come together for informal discussions on some of the issues impacting mental health and wellbeing.

“We have a brilliant panel lined up for the first session of the series and are keen to get as many people involved in the discussion as possible – however, if you simply want to grab a cup of tea and listen in to the discussion, you are absolutely welcome to do so.

“We are excited to announce that this year, all sessions will be recorded, so if you are unable to attend the chat on the night, you will be able to listen back to the panel session afterwards via the MMI website. However, the Q and A section of the chat will not be recorded as we are keen to make sure that attendees feel as comfortable as possible in sharing their thoughts and feelings, should they wish. Our Campfire Chats offer a safe space for all, to reflect, connect and decompress – just like sitting and chatting around a real campfire. We look forward to welcoming as many of you as possible.”

For more information on the ‘Self-care through Winter’ Campfire Chat, and to book your place, please visit our events page, where you can find a link to the dedicated Eventbrite page.

Our next Campfire Chat, ‘Managing Anxiety 101’, is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 24 January 2024, from 7pm – 8pm. The Eventbrite registration link for this will be available via our events page in due course.

Please note that the Campfire Chat sessions are informal in nature and intended to provide an outlet to discuss key topics related to mental health and do not replace proper professional or clinical information, advice or guidance. If you are currently experiencing mental health challenges, there are many sources of support which you can reach out to: Vetlife is there for you 24/7 and can be reached on: 0303 040 2551, Samaritans also provide 24/7 support and can be reached on 116 123 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org. You can also contact your local GP or call NHS 111. If you are in crisis ring 999 or visit your local A&E department.

MMI Research Symposium graphic

Veterinary mental health researchers gather for Fourth MMI Symposium

On Tuesday 10 October, we held our fourth biennial mental health research symposium at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.

The event saw veterinary mental health researchers from across Europe come together to share their insights into a variety of areas of veterinary mental health including moral injury, suicide and suicide prevention, the impact of racism, veterinary nurse mental health, and workplace stressors for autistic veterinary professionals. There was a total of 77 attendees, including a mix of academic researchers and veterinary professionals.

The day opened with a welcome from Dr Kate Richards MRCVS, Chair of the Mind Matters Initiative. Kate provided the background to MMI before laying out the proceedings for the day which began with a talk from keynote speaker Dr Leah Quinlivan, Research Fellow and Chartered Psychologist at the University of Manchester, who presented on ‘Evidence-based care for people who have self-harmed: risk prediction, psychosocial assessments, and aftercare.’

RCVS CEO and MMI founder Lizzie Lockett then introduced the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant, which has been awarded for five consecutive years. The grant was first set up in honour of former RCVS Council member and veterinary mental health advocate Sarah Brown, who took her own life in 2017. Lizzie highlighted Sarah’s brilliant work and thanked Sarah’s family for their ongoing support of the grant. She then went on to formally present the grant to this year’s recipients, Dr Jackie Hargreaves and Dr Faye Didymus, researchers from Leeds Beckett University, who will be running the last of six research projects funded in Sarah’s name. Their research project will be taking a deep dive into whether there is adequate mental health education in the student veterinary nursing curriculum.

The five previous Sarah Brown Research Grant recipients were then each invited to the stage to provide updates on their research projects. These were:

  • Dr Kate Lamont: How Farm Vets Cope: A summary of the project funded by the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant (Year 1), including ‘take home’ messages and post-project activity;
  • Dr Victoria Williamson: Experiences and impact of moral injury on UK veterinary professional wellbeing;
  • Dr Navaratnam Partheeban: Solutions that could make a difference to the impact of racism on Black and Minority Ethnic People working and studying in the UK veterinary profession;
  • Dr Kirstie Pickles: Autistic veterinary surgeons in the United Kingdom: Workplace stressors and mental wellbeing; and,
  • Dr Katherine Wakelin and Sarah Corthorne: An online compassionate imagery intervention to improve psychological wellbeing for veterinarians: A randomised control trial.

The proceedings then paused for lunch and networking, before talks recommenced in the afternoon. These talks took a quick-fire approach, with each researcher having 15 minutes to present their work. These talks provided insight into a range of important topics and included presentations from seasoned academics as well as those just starting out in their careers. These sessions were chaired by Angharad Belcher, Director for the Advancement of the Professions, who oversees the work of the Mind Matters Initiative.

Angharad then took to the stage to talk about the work of MMI, including its newly published 5-year strategy and evaluation documents. Within her talk she shared her thoughts on the day, stating: “I’ve really enjoyed hearing from everybody who has shared their research and I love the part where everybody goes out and starts engaging in discussion and thinking about what might be, and where this can all take us. What solutions we might be able to find. What different strategies we might be able to employ. But most of all it’s about the shared desire to raise awareness of mental health and to address stigma and discrimination.”

MMI Chair, Dr Kate Richards presenting at the MMI Research Symposium 2023
MMI Chair, Dr Kate Richards

Dr Kate Richards then provided closing remarks for the day, stating: “What a day. I’m just so honoured to be the MMI Chair and really humbled by the passion, the commitment and generosity demonstrated by everybody throughout today.

“Today has been about a vast variety of topics with presenters from veterinary backgrounds, veterinary nurse backgrounds, medical science backgrounds and social science backgrounds. I think the power and the huge synergies from cross disciplinary working is a real motivator for me. Just to see everybody in the room sharing and collaborating, learning from one another, I think, is extremely powerful.”

A breakdown of the day, including talks abstracts and speaker bios, is available to access in our resources section. Videos of the day and a full report will be available to view in due course.

If you’re currently struggling with your mental health, Vetlife is there for you 24/7 and can be reached on: 0303 040 2551. The Samaritans also provide 24/7 support and can be reached on 116 123.

MMI Research Symposium graphic

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 l.quigley@rcvs.org.uk.

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

BSAVA Congress 2018 logo

Mind Matters at BSAVA Congress

Mind Matters is heading to the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress this year, holding a number of sessions on mental health.

On the Thursday in Hall 6 there will be two sessions hosted by Mind Matters Chair, Stuart Reid. From 11:05-11:50 Elinor O’Connor, Director of Teaching and Learning Fellow at Alliance Manchester Business School, and Lizzie Lockett, RCVS CEO, will give a talk titled ‘Maximising wellbeing at work: an evidence-based approach’, and then from 12:00-12:45 there will then be a talk titled ‘Blaming, excuses and mindset – how changing the way you think and speak can help change practice culture’ with Anne-Marie Svendesen Aylott, Leadership Coach at PurpleCat Coaching.

Also, on the Saturday there will be an ‘&me Live’ event chaired by Lizzie in her capacity as Director of Mind Matters, to talk about the joint Mind Matters and Doctors’ Support Network mental health campaign, &me. The campaign aims to encourage senior people within the healthcare professions to come forward with their stories to reduce the stigma around mental ill health, and demonstrate that a mental health problem does not exclude people from achieving leading roles in healthcare.

For a full schedule of RCVS talks at BSAVA Congress, please visit the RCVS website.

MMI symposium 2017

Inaugural Mind Matters Initiative Research Symposium demonstrates the value of collaboration

The inaugural Mind Matters Initiative ‘Research Symposium’ took place at the University of Edinburgh on Friday 20 January 2017 giving academics and researchers working in the field of veterinary mental health the opportunity to share their insights both with each other and members of the professions.

The Symposium was organised with Rosie Allister, Chair of Vet Helpline and Director of Vetlife, and introduced by Mind Matters Initiative Chair and former RCVS President Colonel Neil Smith (pictured right) around the theme of ‘understanding and supporting veterinary mental health’ and was attended by nearly 100 people.

The morning comprised presentations from three plenary speakers. The first talk was delivered by Professor Stephen Platt from the University of Edinburgh regarding the concept of ‘suicide clusters’ and how it might relate to the veterinary professions; the second, by Professor Debbie Cohen from Cardiff University, was about disclosing and assessing mental ill-health amongst medical students and medical professionals; and the final talk was delivered by Chris O’Sullivan from the Mental Health Foundation about protecting and improving mental health at work.

The afternoon session comprised a series of four ‘short-talk streams’ in which a number of academics and researchers gave 15-minute talks on their area of study. These covered a variety of topics including the humour-types within UK veterinary practice, the transition from vet student to veterinary surgeon, embedding resilience training into the veterinary curriculum, how veterinary nurses cope with stress in practice and the effectiveness of mindfulness-based webinars for veterinary professionals.

The day was wrapped up with a workshop led by Lizzie Lockett, Director of the Mind Matters Initiative, in which delegates were asked to prioritise what they thought were the most important areas of veterinary mental health research for the future. Suggestions included on the impact of physical exercise on mental health, what is ‘normal’ in terms of perceptions of stress in practice and whether a peer-support programme could work on a national basis.

Speaking of the day Lizzie added: “The Mind Matters Initiative Research Symposium was a ground-breaking day that gave those working and with an interest in this area to opportunity to share research, ideas and lived experience. A collaborative and positive spirit was evident throughout the day and this shows that a community is being developed in this area which can share and discuss ideas , develop solutions and conduct future research.

“While research into this area may be at a relatively early stage ,the day demonstrated that there is a very real desire to improve our knowledge and, by doing so, better understand the causes of mental ill-health in the veterinary professions and the treatment and preventative measures that can be put in place to reduce the stigma and help people before they reach a crisis point.”

The Webinar Vet logo

RCVS to chair International Virtual Congress session on mental health

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) will be taking part in The Webinar Vet’s International Virtual Congress on 20 January 2017 from 7-9pm. Neil Smith, RCVS Council member and Chair of the College’s Mind Matters Initiative, will chair a series of talks focusing on resilience and stress reduction, which will be free to join.

The College launched the Mind Matters Initiative to increase the accessibility and acceptance of mental health support, and encourage a culture that better equips individuals to talk about and deal with stress and related issues.

The session comprises three talks: ‘Managing work stress in veterinary practice’ with Dr Elinor O’Connor, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Psychology at the University of Manchester; ‘Veterinary resilience, more good days than bad’ with Dr Jenny Moffett, Managing Director of SkillsTree Ltd; and ‘An introduction to mindfulness’ with Dr Mike Scanlan, Director of Kind Minds Health.

This is the second year that we have been involved with the International Virtual Congress, chairing a ‘happiness symposium’ at last year’s Congress for which over 700 people tuned in.

Register now for the stream on <a href="http://www.theinternationalwebinarvet.com/stream/rcvs-pre-congress-day" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://www.theinternationalwebinarvet propecia online canada.com/stream/rcvs-pre-congress-day’, ‘The Webinar Vet website’);” style=”color: #45b2a8;” target=”_blank”>The Webinar Vet website.

St Leonards Hall

Speaker line-up for inaugural Mind Matters Initiative Research Symposium confirmed

The agenda for the first Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) Research Symposium, which takes place on Friday 20 January 2017 at the University of Edinburgh’s Pollock Halls, has now been confirmed and has, as its overarching theme, ‘Understanding and supporting veterinary mental health’.

The event takes place between 8.30am and 4.30pm and begins with a welcome and introduction to the MMI from former RCVS President and MMI Chair Neil Smith.

Following the introduction there will be a number of plenary talks from those involved in research into mental health and wellbeing. Speakers and topics include Professor Rory O’Connor, Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Glasgow about understanding suicidal behaviour, Professor Debbie Cohen from the Centre for Psychosocial Research about disclosing and assessing mental ill-health in the medical profession and Chris O’Sullivan, Head of Workplace Mental Health at Mental Health Foundation about protecting and improving mental health at work.

These talks are by an expert panel session at 11.45am. The afternoon will then comprise two sessions of short talks divided into two steams comprising 14 presentations in total. A call for submissions was made last November and topics covered by the talks include empathy and burnout, professional skills development and wellbeing in primary care practitioners, how humour can effect employees and the working environment, and occupational stress and psychological wellbeing in UK veterinary surgeons. Each stream will culminate in a speaker panel Q&A.

At 3.30pm delegates will take part in an hour-long workshop facilitated by Lizzie Locket, MMI Director, to identify priority areas for veterinary mental health research.

The full agenda and tickets, which cost £30 (or £54 including a networking dinner on the evening of Thursday 19 January) are available from the our Eventbrite page.

Dr Radha Modgil

Wellbeing on the mind for RCVS at SPVS/ VPMA Congress 2017

At this year’s Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS)/ Veterinary Practice Management Association (VPMA) Congress we will be focusing on our current work around mental health awareness and wellbeing.

The Congress takes place at the Celtic Manor Resort near Newport, Wales from Friday 27 to Saturday 28 January 2017 with a full day’s programme based around the Mind Matters Initiative chaired by Dr Radha Modgil (pictured right), a GP and co-host of Radio 1’s The Surgery on the Friday.

The programme starts at 10.40am with a talk from Dr Modgil entitled ‘Work-related mental health’ in which she will outline how to recognise common mental health problems in oneself and colleagues and the steps to take once these have been identified.

At 12 noon this will be followed by the unveiling of the winners of the Mind Matters Initiative-supported SPVS Wellbeing Award which recognises practices that work to ensure a happy, healthy workforce.

Veterinary coach and mentor Carolyne Crowe adds her experience of working with practices across the UK to manage stress and tackle work-related mental health problems, while Nick Stuart, Senior Vice President of SPVS and chair of the Wellbeing Awards judging panel, shares ideas from some of the other highly commended entries.

The final session (at 2pm) is a discussion about how to build resilience in the workplace chaired by Dr Radha Modgil and featuring psychologists Andy McCann and Jamie Baker and Rosie Allister, a veterinary surgeon who has studied mental health and wellbeing within the profession with a focus on building resilience in undergraduates to help them cope with the stresses of clinical practice.

On the Saturday, from 10.00am to 11.30am, Mind Matters Initiative Director Lizzie Lockett and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Council member Kate Richards will lead a workshop to consider how to improve mental health and wellbeing in large animal, equine and mixed practice.

The College will also have a team throughout the course of the event at stand C35 ready to answer any questions about our current initiatives including the Practice Standards Scheme, the Vet and VN Futures projects, the confidential reporting line and the ongoing review of our continuing professional development policy.

As part of the overall theme visitors to the stand will be encouraged to share their wellbeing tips via social media and will also have the chance of winning a Fitbit Alta wristband if they correctly guess the answer to a question posed by the College as part of the Congress’ overall exhibition competition.

Emma Smith

Surrey Practice Manager wins Mind Matters Initiative competition at London Vet Show

Emma Smith, Practice Manager at Pets First Ltd Runnymede Hill Vet Hospital in Surrey, was the winner of the Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) competition held at our stand at the London Vet Show earlier this month (ExCel, 17-18 November 2016).

The MMI, a project which began in 2015 that aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of those in the veterinary team, including students, veterinary nurses, veterinary surgeons and practice managers, was the focus of our stand at the London Vet Show.

The stand featured tips gathered from a month-long social media campaign in September, which saw daily suggestions for how to improve wellbeing from members of the veterinary profession and mental health experts. Visitors were asked to share their own wellbeing tips and be in with a chance to win a FitBit Alta worth £100, with the winner being chosen by MMI Chair Neil Smith and Project Director Lizzie Lockett.

The wellbeing tips given during the social media campaign can be found on the MMI’s Twitter account (@vetmindmatters), along with all the tips from the day including the winner’s: “Pack a lunch, plan your day, and praise (giving and receiving)”.

St Leonards Hall

Registrations now open for first Mind Matters Initiative Research Symposium

The inaugural Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) Research Symposium will take place on Friday, 20 January 2017, at the University of Edinburgh’s Pollock Halls, under the theme ‘Understanding and supporting veterinary mental health’.

The event will bring together those involved in research into mental health and wellbeing in the veterinary profession in order to share latest findings and consider what interventions may be developed from this knowledge. There will also be the opportunity to identify the gaps in the current research jigsaw.

Keynote speakers will include Professor Rory O’Connor of the Suicide Behaviour Research Lab at the University of Glasgow, Dr Debbie Cohen, Chair of the Faculty of Occupational Health at Cardiff University, and Chris O’Sullivan of the Mental Health Foundation.

The event will be preceded, on the evening of Thursday 19 January 2017, by an optional informal dinner at the beautiful St Leonard’s Hall, for a chance to network with colleagues and start the discussion.

Tickets for the Symposium cost £30 (or £54 including dinner on 19 January), and are available on our Eventbrite page.


Call for submissions

A call for submissions from those keen to do short talks or present posters at the Symposium is also now open. Papers are particularly invited in the following areas:

  1. The veterinary life course: career stages, transitions and wellbeing
  2. Veterinary mental health: building the evidence base
  3. Mental health and wellbeing in veterinary education
  4. Workplace health
  5. Veterinary nurse mental health and wellbeing
  6. Support for veterinary professionals in distress
  7. New graduate mental health and support
  8. Wildcard – other veterinary mental health and wellbeing research projects are welcome to apply via this stream


Presentations should be in the format of a 12-minute oral presentation (10 minutes, plus two for questions) or an A1 or A0 poster. Those wishing to apply should submit an abstract clearly marked ‘poster’ or ‘oral presentation’. The title should be 15 words or fewer. The abstract should include author(s) first name(s), followed by surname(s), institution of affiliation and country. The body of the text should be no longer than 250 words and include: background; clear and explicit aims and objectives, hypotheses or research questions; methods; results; discussion; and conclusion buy generic propecia.

All abstracts should be submitted as Word documents to Rosie Allister no later than 23:59 (GMT) on 28 November 2016. Applicants will be notified if they have been successful within 14 days of this date. Speakers whose applications are successful will receive complimentary registration for the Symposium (does not include travel and accommodation costs or the dinner) but are encouraged to register in the first instance, to secure their place.



London Vet show logo - pink horse

College to focus on Mind Matters at the London Vet Show

Come to visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) at this year’s London Vet Show from 17 to 18 November at the ExCel, London, where we will be promoting a number of our projects and initiatives.

The focus of the stand (Q58) will be the Mind Matters Initiative, a project launched in 2014 that aims to increase the accessibility and acceptance of mental health support, and encourage a culture that better equips individuals to talk about and deal with stress and related issues.

The stand will feature tips gathered from a month-long social media campaign in September, which saw daily suggestions for how to improve wellbeing from members of the veterinary profession and mental health experts. Visitors will be able to share their own wellbeing tips and be in with a chance to win a FitBit Alta worth £100. The wellbeing tips given during the social media campaign can be found on the Mind Matters Initiative’s Twitter account.

We will also be co-hosting a ‘Breakfast on Brexit’ meeting with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) at 8.30am on Friday 18 November. Delegates are invited to attend and hear from Chris Tufnell, RCVS President, and Alick Simmons, Chair of BVA’s Brexit Working Group and former UK Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, about our Brexit Presidential Taskforce and BVA’s Brexit Working Group, respectively. The audience will be encouraged to contribute to the discussion, with comments, feedback and suggestions.

The Vet Futures project, a joint initiative between the College and the BVA, will also be featured on the stand. The project was launched at London Vet Show in 2014, and the Vet Futures Action Plan, which detailed how the organisations would deliver on the recommendations of the 2015 Vet Futures Report, was launched at the Vet Futures Summit on 4 July 2016.

Furthermore, we will be holding a series of free 20-minute Practice Standards Scheme surgeries with PSS Lead Assessor Pam Mosedale, to assist those practices that are thinking of joining the Scheme, have an upcoming inspection, or are applying for an optional PSS award. To sign up, please email Alicia Menendez-Buick, PSS Officer, or visit the RCVS stand, Q58.

Well being Awards logo 2016

New SPVS/Mind Matters Wellbeing Award

The Mind Matters Initiative is supporting the Society for Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) as they turn the spotlight on veterinary practices where wellbeing is valued, and invite them to share what they are doing via a new ‘Wellbeing Award’.

The award will recognise those practices with management systems and initiatives that motivate and engage their staff and who can demonstrate their commitment to being a better place to work.

Entries can be from branch surgeries or whole practices and there are three different categories, depending on number of employees. The prize for each category includes two registrations and banquet tickets for Veterinary Practice Management Association/SPVS Congress 2017.

Launching the awards at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress on 9 April, SPVS Senior Vice-President, Nick Stuart, said: “There is much discussion within the profession about preventing mental illness and suicide. While this is vitally important, there can be a danger of painting too gloomy a picture of modern UK veterinary practice.

“These awards will help the understanding of mental wellbeing and the role this can play in job satisfaction, with the knock on effects of reducing staff turnover and increasing profitability. The awards recognise that there are many practices out there where the staff are motivated, feel valued, and look forward to coming into work each day!”

Neil Smith, Chair of the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative, added: “We are delighted to support this exciting new award. Celebrating what practices are doing well is important in terms of inspiring change, offering positive case studies and, perhaps most importantly, maintaining a positive approach to wellbeing as a key activity for all of the veterinary team.”

The awards website includes a Wellbeing Checklist which anyone can complete, whether or not they are entering, to audit their own practice performance and use to pick up tips on other activities they could implement.

The closing date for entries is 30 September 2016.

Eleanor Ferguson

Mental health on the agenda at SPVS VPMA Congress

Later this month we will be putting mental health on the agenda at this year’s joint Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) and Veterinary Practice Management Association (VPMA) Congress.

RCVS staff will be on stand 35 of the exhibition area at the Congress, which takes place at the Celtic Manor Resort on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 January, where they will be available to answer any queries.

The main focus on Friday will be our Mind Matters Initiative, which has collaborated with SPVS and the VPMA to support a stream on mental health and wellbeing which will be chaired by Claudia Hammond, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘All in the Mind’.

The stream will start at 10.40am with a panel session chaired by Claudia Hammond with Alastair Campbell, whose father was a vet and has candidly spoken about his own mental health problems, entitled ‘The Dangers of Stigma’.

At 1.45pm, Claudia Hammond will give a talk called ‘Emotional Rollercoaster’, looking at different emotions and how our brain produces them, followed at 3.30pm by a presentation on ‘Mental Health in Practice’ by Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at the mental health charity Mind.

On Saturday, we will be giving two talks about our concerns investigation process and the Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) respectively.

At 11.15am Eleanor Ferguson (pictured above right), our Head of Professional Conduct , will be leading a session on the ‘Team Approach to RCVS Complaints Procedures’ looking at what practices can do to reduce the chance of complaints being made and how they can engage with the process when a concern has been raised.

At 12.15pm Pam Mosedale, the Practice Standards Team Acting Lead Assessor, will be running a session called ‘Do you offer ‘Outstanding’ Client Service?’ which will be looking at the new PSS Awards and how practices can prepare for them, with a focus on the Client Service Award.

On the morning of the same day, between 9.40am and 10.40am, Pam will also be holding workshops for equine and large animal practices on preparing for the new awards and assessment process for the PSS.

Neil smith

Mind Matters Initiative to host Wellness Symposium at Virtual Congress 2016

As part of our Mind Matters Initiative, we have collaborated with The Webinar Vet to offer a free ‘Wellness Symposium’ for the veterinary professions as part of the 4th International Webinar Vet Virtual Congress 2016.

The symposium takes place on Friday 8 January between 7pm and 9pm, and focuses on how to develop and improve wellbeing in your working life.

The symposium will feature four speakers:

  • Neil Smith (pictured right), RCVS Council member and the Chair of the Mind Matters Initiative, who will be introducing the initiative and its aims;
  • Veterinary coach and mentor Carolyne Crowe will give a talk entitled ‘How to cope with work-related stress’;
  • Medical nurse Dr Mike Scanlan will be giving a talk called ‘Live more mindfully and increase your psychological flexibility – a pathway to happiness’;
  • RCVS Council member and veterinary mental health campaigner David Bartram will be talking about how to enhance personal mental wellbeing.

Speaking about the symposium, Neil Smith said: “We are very glad to be able to bring these presentations to the profession for free via The Webinar Vet, particularly as, over the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that mental ill-health is a significant issue facing the veterinary professions.

“With its focus on wellbeing and resourcefulness, I hope this content will help provide all members of the veterinary team with the tools they need to improve their mental health and their ability to cope with the stress and pressure that often accompanies life in veterinary practice.”

Visit The Webinar Vet to find out more and register for the Wellbeing Symposium. Recordings of the symposium will be made available after the event.

Mind Matters Logo

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.

Ground-breaking mental health conference for the medical professions

We have joined forces with Maudsley Learning to host a ground-breaking conference to address mental health issues across the medical professions.

The one-day event, Medical Minds Matter, will take place on 28 October 2015 at Maudsley Learning’s ORTUS learning and events centre in South London. It aims better to understand the mental health challenges affecting medical professionals – such as veterinary surgeons, doctors, dentists and pharmacists – and to facilitate the sharing of learning and best practice around supporting individuals and addressing the issues.

The conference is part of the Mind Matters Initiative, a five-year project funded and run by the RCVS to help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness in the veterinary profession, develop a culture where help-seeking is accepted, improve access to sources of appropriate help, and facilitate the sharing of best practice in terms of intervention and support.

“Medical Minds Matter will be a unique event, bringing together a diverse range of medical professionals for the first time to tackle an issue that is, sadly, one that looms large for many professions,” says Colonel Neil Smith, Chair of the Mind Matters Initiative.

“There is much we can learn from each other, and we hope that the event will help delegates develop a shared understanding of common issues and successful

interventions, as well as paving the way for future collaborations across the professions.”

The day will include speakers from organisations including The Royal College of General Practitioners, the University of Bath, King’s College London, Pharmacist Support, the Doctors’ Support Network, the SAFEMED Programme, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and the Dentists’ Health Support Programme.

Workshop sessions will focus on shared themes, such as peer support and resilience building; cognitive behavioural therapy; and, tackling stigma. There will also be the opportunity to share ideas for future collaboration.

Tickets, which cost £45 for professionals and £25 for students and researchers, are available on the Eventbrite page.

For more information, please view the flyer.