Tag Archive for: mentalhealth

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Join our online ‘Mind Yourself’ training programme

Join us for our new online ‘Mind Yourself’ training programme, designed to help individuals to improve and protect their mental health.

The three-part online virtual programme – open to all members of the veterinary professions including veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, students, receptionists, and practice managers – will be delivered by award winning mental health training charity Two Roads Charity. Sessions will be taking place on Zoom for three consecutive Mondays in April (Monday 8 April, Monday 15 April, and Monday 22 April) from 16:00 to 16:50pm.

Thanks to MMI subsidies, the entire programme costs £15 per person or £50 for a bulk practice purchase for four people.

MMI Lead, Rapinder Newton, said: “Being mentally healthy is a lot more than simply the absence of mental illness. The ‘Mind Yourself’ programme from Two Roads is designed to help people move towards flourishing mental health so that they can lead happier lives and have the emotional resilience for when things go wrong.  

“Beginning with building understanding of mental health, the latter parts of the programme will help nudge individuals into incorporating mentally healthy practices into their lives and to build their emotional resilience.

“The programme is open to all members of the veterinary team and spaces are available on a first come first served basis so, if you would like to attend, I would urge you to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.”

For more information on the Two Roads Charity training programme, and to book your place, visit the Mind Matters training page.

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.

Sarah Brown Grant graphic

Mind Matters awards funding to project exploring SVN mental health education

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has awarded £20,000 to a research project taking a deep dive into whether there is adequate mental health education in the student veterinary nursing curriculum.

The funding comes from the MMI 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 has since been 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 research into a number of areas, including: the mental health impacts of racism; moral injury; farm veterinarian mental health; an investigation into workplace stressors for autistic veterinarians; and the effectiveness of online compassionate imagery intervention.

This year’s grant has been awarded to Dr Faye Didymus (pictured right, top) and Dr Jackie Hargreaves (pictured right, bottom) from Leeds Beckett University who aim to address potential lack of understanding surrounding the importance of mental health education in the learning paths of student veterinary nurses. This will be done through a scoping review of mental health education during student veterinary nursing curricula. The review will be supplemented by interviews with tutors, veterinary nurse students and qualified veterinary nurses to understand their experiences of and levels of exposure to mental health education. It is hoped this research will culminate in a set of evidence-based recommendations for how mental health education for student veterinary nurses could be enhanced.

On being told their proposal had been awarded the grant, Dr Faye Didymus said: “Being awarded the Sarah Brown Research Grant offers a fantastic opportunity for us and for the future of veterinary nursing. We hope that our research will have a real impact on the mental health of those working in the veterinary nursing profession.”

“Maintaining good mental health is vital for job satisfaction, retention, and performance, and integrating mental health education into veterinary nursing courses is one way that veterinary nurse mental health can be supported, as it allows people to develop essential skills that will benefit their lives beyond education.”

“However, little is known about what mental health education is provided across veterinary nursing diplomas and degrees or if there is a consistent approach. Throughout the research, we aim to build a clearer picture of the current provision, so we can create evidence-based recommendations for the optimisation of veterinary nursing education.”

Mind Matters Initiative Manager, Lisa Quigley, said: “This year marks the final year of the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grants, and I would like to thank Sarah’s family for their blessing to run the grant and for their ongoing support. We have funded six projects over the past five years which we hope will help Sarah’s legacy and passion for improving mental health and wellbeing within the professions live on.

“I would also like to thank our panel of judges for their support. We have chosen a very deserving project and I look forward to seeing the outcome of their research and the impact it will have on the professions in the years to come.

“Much of the research into veterinary mental health has so far been centred around veterinary surgeons so we were keen to fund a veterinary nurse focussed project to help close that knowledge gap. The veterinary field encompasses the entire veterinary team, and we cannot afford to overlook a group that makes up much of the working veterinary population and who are vital for the functioning of the sector. It is essential that we support our veterinary nurses throughout their careers and provide them with the knowledge and tools to look after their own mental wellbeing from the outset.

“Research plays a major role in this, and we are delighted to be funding a fully nurse-based project.”

Dr Faye Didymus and Dr Jackie Hargreaves will be awarded the Sarah Brown Grant at the Mind Matters Mental Health Research Symposium at the Midland Hotel in Manchester on Tuesday 10 October. Tickets and more information about the symposium are available on our dedicated symposium page.

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 https://vetmindmatters.org/resources/.

Graphic of a a log fire on a green MMI background

Letting Go of Perfect

Working hard and doing your best is never a bad thing. However, consistently setting unrealistic standards for yourself and constantly striving for perfection can have a hugely damaging effect on your self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. This, in turn, leads to an increased vulnerability to developing certain psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.

In this Campfire Chat, we discussed why so many of us feel the need to achieve perfection, why it’s important for us to try and stop being so hard on ourselves, and the ways in which we can start letting go of perfect.

Key discussion points in the Campfire Chat included:

How would you define perfectionism?

Perfectionism is a personality trait that everyone has to some degree. Just like people can be more or less neurotic, people can be more or less perfectionistic. There are two core features of perfectionism:

  1. Setting overly high standards
  2. Being hugely self-critical

What are some perfectionistic traits and tendencies?

  1. Engaging in all or nothing thinking i.e., if I don’t achieve this really high standard that I’ve set for myself, then I have failed.
  2. Self-criticism – people who are high on perfectionism are very self-critical and chase after impossible standards which means they always fall short. High levels of perfectionism can be linked to having a greater risk of developing other mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
  3. A need to validate who you are through your accomplishments.
  4. Are concerned or have negative thoughts towards imperfection.

How can we recognise perfectionistic traits and tendencies in ourselves and others?

Generally, people are good at recognising perfectionism in themselves and others. However, when this isn’t the case, it is necessary to look at three things:

  1. How perfectionistic are your goals?
  2. Why are you aiming for them?
  3. How do you feel when you fall short?

People with high levels of perfectionism often have low self-esteem, as they rely on their achievements to give them value. When a perfectionist sets goals which are often unachievable, this can be very damaging for their self-esteem as they will always fall short of their own expectations.

People are multifactorial and levels of perfectionism vary from person to person. For example, new graduates may often feel anxious if they don’t match up to the idea of what they think they are meant to be.

Finding perspective can be difficult, particularly for the younger veterinary community. It’s difficult to be perfect in an ambiguous world – there is a gap between education and work. At school you know you have to learn a certain thing in order to gain a certain grade, whereas inevitably in the world of work you are more likely to suffer setbacks. It’s much less predictable.

Perfectionism can sometimes be associated with conscientiousness. However, doing your best isn’t a bad thing – it is the constant self-criticism that can cause damage.

Why do so many people feel the need to be perfect?

Perfection is the ideal that we have been presented with on a societal level – it is sometimes encouraged and even rewarded by society and can be considered a necessity to work at the highest level.

Perfectionism isn’t specific to any one group of people – however it can be exacerbated by certain environments i.e. peers, education, workplace, upbringing etc. In the veterinary sector, there is a certain pressure in that society holds vets to a particular standard i.e. they should love animals, should look and carry themselves in a certain way etc. Vet students then often use these expectations as barometers for what makes a good vet.

These societal expectations can become inextricably linked to how people see themselves which is inevitably damaging. In the campfire chat, panellist Fabian Rivers (a.k.a. DreadyVet) spoke about the fact that he has highlighted his dreadlocks as a part of who he is on social media and beyond – in his words, being known as DreadyVet shows how ‘he can still create value without being reduced down to his ethnicity’.

Vets are often stereotyped, and we all have a responsibility to humanise people working in the veterinary community.

How does perfectionism impact mental health?

Perfectionism isn’t a clinical disorder – it’s a characteristic. However, as you become more perfectionistic, this can lead you to become vulnerable to mental ill health.

There are recognised risk factors for high levels of perfectionism including for eating disorders, anxiety, and suicide. However, this is not to say that perfectionism causes any of these things as all mental health conditions are multifactorial. Excessive self-criticism, however, can often be indicative of mental health issues.

How can you support people who are perfectionists?

If you are worried about your mental health or the mental health of someone else, you should always consult a mental health professional. However, if you’re not experiencing a mental illness but would like to improve your perfectionism, there are lots of psychoeducational resources available. Talking to others about it can also help inform the way you think about yourself and others.

How can it impact our relationships?

Not only do perfectionists expect perfection from themselves, but from those around them too. This can lead to a lack of empathy, hostility, and an absence of social support. It creates a social disconnect as people deny themselves rich, rewarding, and supportive relationships.

It can also diminish trust as perfectionists always feel like nobody else will be able to meet their standards. This can easily cause fractured relationships as quite often, if someone is trying to be compassionate, a perfectionist may see this as interference and adding to the problem. This can become really damaging, especially when working in a high-pressured working environment, as when relationships start to break down, the repercussions can potentially be fatal.

Panellist Takeaways:

  1. We must all try to understand that whatever we are able to achieve is within our grasp and must be prepared to not achieve certain things that we have conceptualised. We grow when we are open to change. The learning process and benefits gained from our concerted efforts to achieve something is often more valuable than the result. Enjoy the process and don’t fixate on the goal.
  2. Perfectionism has few benefits and many costs both for you and for others. Having high standards isn’t a bad thing but you must enjoy your successes, your failures, and be proud of yourself.
  3. Talk about perfectionism and know you’re not alone in your feelings. If it starts to impact your mental health, talk to a mental health professional.

Further resources:

Books:

  • The Art of Being – Erich Fromm
  • Mans Search For Meaning – Frankl
  • The Art of Happiness – Tao Te Ching
  • Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world – Professor Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Perfectionism – Sarah J. Egan, Tracey D.Wade, Roz Shafron, Martin M. Antony
  • Overcoming Perfectionism: A Self-help Guide Using Cognitive Behaviour Techniques – Sarah Egan Wade
  • Freeing Our Families from Perfectionism – Thomas Greenspon

Academic papers (free to access articles from panellist Professor Andrew Hill):

https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/view/author_id/861.html

Animations on Perfectionism:


Further support:

If you’re currently struggling with your mental health, Vetlife is there for you 24/7 and can be reached on: 0303 040 2551. Or if you prefer, you can send them a confidential email.

The Samaritans also provide 24/7 support and can be reached on 116 123 or send a confidential email to jo@samaritans.org.

Tag Archive for: mentalhealth