Tag Archive for: veterinary

Dr Faye Didymus and Dr Jackie Hargreaves

VN educators invited to participate in SVN mental health research project

Our Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant recipients for 2023 are currently collecting data on how mental health education is integrated into curricular for student veterinary nurses. They are looking for course leaders and tutors to complete a short survey, with a further option for an interview, to help inform their research.

The project is being led by Dr Faye Didymus and Dr Jackie Hargreaves from Leeds Beckett University and will culminate in a set of evidence-based recommendations for how mental health education for veterinary students could be enhanced.

Dr Hargreaves said: “As part of our project we have reviewed available information on mental health and wellbeing on accredited course websites but are keen to explore this further. We are asking those with responsibility for delivering accredited veterinary nursing education what they currently do to help enhance the mental health and wellbeing of their students. This will include a short survey and will ask questions about: student confidence in their academic and practical skills, coping with stress both at university and for life in practice, self-regulation, and self-management.

“We are seeking participation from course leaders, directors, and tutors who are working on accredited degrees and diplomas in UK further education and higher education. If you meet these criteria, we would be very grateful if you could take the time to participate in our study. There is currently little research in this area, and we hope that the outcomes of our project will make tangible differences to the mental health and wellbeing of veterinary nurses both throughout their studies and in the long term when they enter the workforce.

“Faye and I would like to thank everyone who has already taken the time to complete the survey and we look forward to hearing from as many veterinary nursing educators as possible.”

For further information and the survey, please follow the link: Mental Health for Veterinary Nurses Survey.

The survey will close on Friday 31 May 2024.

Join us for #UniMentalHealthDay2024: Let’s get talking about student mental health

Organised by Student Minds and the University Mental Health Advisory Network (UMHAN), #UniMentalHealthDay takes place on Thursday 14 March 2024. 

At the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and as part of our Mind Matters Initiative (MMI), we are committed to supporting all members of the veterinary community to thrive in their roles and to get the support they need. Students are the future of the veterinary professions, so working to help protect and support their mental health is a key part of what we do. 

“We are pleased to have undertaken a range of student focused activity recently, including; fully funding a MHFA Champion course for the Association of Veterinary Students, delivering university presentations and mental health training sessions, and supporting researchers at Leeds Beckett University to undertake a deep dive into mental health education for student veterinary nurses through our Sarah Brown Mental Health Research grant.” – Angharad Belcher, Director of the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative 

Student Mental Health Challenges  

Did you know that one in four students have a diagnosed mental health condition, and one in three students have poor mental wellbeing? (Student Minds, 2023) 

Moving away from home for the first time, undertaking exams and placements, navigating the cost-of-living crisis, and adapting to changing personal and professional relationships, can cause challenges for students.  

“#UniMentalHealthDay provides a positive platform to highlight the importance of student mental health in enabling students to thrive on their journey, and in particular signposting appropriate support that’s available, whether they need it right now or in the future. Within this blog, we have collated a range of useful information and support that’s available to students, including how to have a conversation about mental health, seeking help and supporting others.” – Dr Linda Prescott-Clements, RCVS Director of Education 

How to know when you may need support? 

It’s important to think about signs that may indicate that your mental wellbeing may be slipping, so that you can take steps to boost it.  Student Minds have a range of useful resources and questions that you might find helpful to ask yourself. 

Seeking Help  

Recent research by Student Minds (2023) found that one in four students would not know where to get mental health support at their university.  

Whilst talking about your mental health may seem daunting at times, there are many sources of free and accessible support out there for students, including services at universities, the NHS, Student Minds, Vetlife, Samaritans and many more. Check out the useful links and support section at the end of this blog. 

“I think being aware of the avenues for support before you feel you need them is paramount for maintaining good mental health at university. No one expects to have poor mental health so, knowing where you can reach out for help beforehand, such as BVNA’s Members Advisory Service, Vetlife, Samaritans, as well as facilities at your university, makes getting support a lot easier.  University is a great opportunity to practise getting a good work-life balance, so take part in self-enriching activities outside of your studies and look after yourself. As veterinary professionals, our work’s purpose is to care for others and, while learning how to take care of yourself is rewarding in its own right, it is also necessary for longevity in your career.” – Bronwyn Bailey SVN, British Veterinary Nursing Association Council (BVNA), & MMI Taskforce Member 

Starting a Conversation & Supporting Others 

If you are not quite sure how to start a conversation around mental health, Student Minds have provided a useful guide and Mind also have accessible resources. 

There is also a wide variety of training available that may support you to help others including the MHFA Champion and MHFA First Aid courses, and Student Minds’ own ‘Look after your Mate’ course.  

Useful Links and Support 

Student Minds have a great downloadable resource pack that you can use to promote #UniMentalHealthDay. You can download the pack by visiting the University Mental Health Day website

If you need help or support right now, there are a range of organisations out there to help you. 

General support: 

  • Contact your Local GP or call NHS 111 (England & Wales), or NHS 24 (Scotland on 08454 242424). 
  • Student Minds is the UK’s national charity for student mental health and since 2009, they have been championing the cause. Their vision: ‘No student should be held back by their mental health’. For more information, visit the Student Minds website. Student Minds also have a range of useful resources for LGBTQ+ students 
  • Student Space, run by Student Minds, also offers an accessible source of help and guidance, which includes what support may be available at your own University. For more information, visit the Student Space website.  
  • MIND have a specific section on student 
  • Vetlife have a bespoke page for students which you can access by visiting their website. You can also call their Helpline for free on 0303 040 2551. 
  • Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. It provides a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. You can also call them free on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Shout is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope. Text Shout to 85258 

University specific support: 

BSAVA Congress 2024 logo

MMI to focus on moral injury, OCD and PTSD at BSAVA Congress 2024

As part of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress 2024, taking place from 21 to 23 March 2024, at the Manchester Central Convention Complex, Manchester, we will be running two streams based around moral stress, moral injury and psychological safety, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Our first stream, taking place on Thursday 21 March from 10:30 to 17:00, is being held as part of the Wellbeing Programme, and will be centred around moral stress, moral injury, and psychological safety. This will include a mix of sessions, such as an introductive talk on the concepts of moral stress and injury, an introduction to veterinary mental health charity Vetlife, and a panel discussion exploring the role of ethical conversations in supporting yourself and your colleagues to navigate challenging events and experiences.

The second stream will take place on Friday 22 March from 09:10 to 17:40 and will be centred around obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), this time as part of the BSAVA Scientific Programme. In this stream, delegates will explore the science behind OCD and PTSD and their impacts. As well as specific informative talks, this stream also includes two panel discussions centring around lived experience and workplace support for both OCD and PTSD.

Speaking about our congress sessions, new MMI Lead, Rapinder Newton, said: “When it comes to MMI, it is important that our work centres around the science, and that we are able to provide evidence-based information which will help to have a positive impact on the mental wellbeing of the professions.

“For BSAVA Congress, we have chosen two very specific themes for each of our streams, which both link into our new strategy which was published towards the end of last year.

“Firstly, we know there is a problem within the professions when it comes to moral stress and injury as shown by one of the research projects funded by our Sarah Brown Mental Health research grant back in 2020. There are also a lot of conversations in general surrounding this topic at the moment, for example, with the ban on XL bullies and the potential impacts that this could be having on the professions.

“Secondly, again, as part of our strategy, we are aiming to go beyond simply addressing wellbeing and delve deeper into the impacts of mental illness on those working in the veterinary professions. We are aiming to raise awareness of mental health conditions by providing expert evidence-based information in order to remove the stigma which still, sadly, is often attached to this.

“By delving into the science behind OCD and PTSD and bringing in clinical experts to talk about these topics, as well as integrating the stories of those with lived experience, we hope to challenge people’s potential misconceptions and widen the conversations around mental health, to ultimately improve the experiences of those experiencing these conditions and to help strengthen the workforce as a whole.”

The Mind Matters 5-year Strategy can be accessed on our resource page. For more on the findings of the Sarah Brown Research Project into moral injury within the veterinary professions, a summary of the talk given by researcher Dr Victoria Williamson can be found in the write up of our Mind Matters Mental Health Research Symposium 2023 on our resource page, as well as a video of the talk.

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.

For more information on our activities at BSAVA, including a full break down of session times and locations, please visit the RCVS BSAVA Congress page.

MMI Research Symposium graphic

MMI releases Mind Matters Mental Health Symposium Report and videos

Today, 28 February 2024, we have released a report depicting the findings from the fourth Mind Matters Mental Health Research Symposium as well as videos of talks from the day.

The event, which took place on 10 October 2023 in Manchester, 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 was split into three main sections. The first portion of the day included a welcome address from Dr Kate Richards, Chair of the Mind Matters Initiative, followed by the keynote and plenary address from Dr Leah Quinlivan on ‘Evidence-based care for people who have self-harmed: risk prediction, psychosocial assessments and aftercare.’

The second portion of the day included talks from previous recipients of the Mind Matters Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant, which was first set up in honour of former RCVS Council member and veterinary mental health advocate Sarah Brown. These research talks, which included research into topics spanning from the impact of racism on the mental health of veterinary professionals, to the impact of moral injury on UK veterinary professional wellbeing, were introduced by RCVS CEO and Mind Matters founder Lizzie Lockett.

After lunch, attention turned to quick fire research talks, where researchers from across the field of veterinary mental health research each had 15 minutes to take to the stage to present their projects. 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 and of the Mind Matters Initiative.

To close the day, Angharad then took to the stage to talk about the work of MMI, including its newly published 5-year strategy and evaluation documents, before MMI Chair Dr Kate Richards closed the day’s proceedings with an outgoing address.

Angharad said: “The fourth Mind Matters Mental Health Research Symposium was a massively inspiring and insightful day. The field of veterinary mental health research is still relatively small so it remains of utmost importance that we continue to band together to share our knowledge on this subject, so that we can continue to learn and grow together and put these important learnings into practice.

“For us, it is vital that these new groundbreaking research projects are made available to all who want to learn more about helping to improve the mental health and wellbeing of those working within the veterinary professions. There is some truly fantastic work going on which provides us with hope that we can all continue to work together towards a brighter future.”

“For us, it is vital that these new groundbreaking research projects are made available to all who want to learn more about helping to improve the mental health and wellbeing of those working within the veterinary professions. There is some truly fantastic work going on which provides us with hope that we can all continue to work together towards a brighter future.

“There is no doubt that there is a long way to go, but improvement starts with education and research so I would urge anybody who is interested in what is being done to help improve and support the mental health of those working within the veterinary professions, and who is keen to help us keep these vital conversations going, to have a look through the report or access videos of the talks. It was a truly inspiring day with a lot of key takeaways.”

Anybody wishing to access the report or videos from the day can do so by visiting our resource 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.

lesser heard voices logo

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.

lesser heard voices logo

Become a Mental Health First Aider with Mind Matters

This March, we’re offering veterinary professionals the opportunity to become Mental Health First Aiders, by providing in-person training in Nottingham.

The course, which will allow delegates to gain their Mental Health First Aid qualification, will be partially subsidised by us and led by Mental Health First Aid England who offer expert guidance and training to support mental health in the workplace and beyond.

The in-person two-day course will be running from Thursday 7 March to Friday 8 March 2024 at Antenna, Nottingham, at a cost of £80 per person. The course is open to all members of the veterinary professions, including veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, students, receptionists and practice managers.

Advancement of the Professions and Mind Matters Director, Angharad Belcher, said: “At MMI, we really believe in creating a thriving veterinary community which not only provides people with help and guidance to look after their own mental health, but also allows them to develop an understanding of how they can best support their fellow colleagues too. Those who complete the Mental Health First Aid course will learn how to spot signs of poor mental health in others, how to successfully signpost to appropriate support, and teach people how to confidently start conversations around mental health.

“Having worked with Mental Health First Aid England in the past to provide these valuable training courses, we are really pleased to see the network of veterinary Mental Health First Aiders continue to grow, particularly in more rural areas where access to mental health support is often more difficult to come by. The aim is to create a ripple effect, whereby Mental Health First Aiders within the veterinary community can then support others to feel confident in speaking out about how they feel and to reach out for appropriate support if required.”

For more information on the Mental Health First Aid course, and to book your place, visit our training page. Spaces are offered on a first come first served basis, so be sure to book you space quickly to avoid disappointment.

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/.

Sarah Brown Grant graphic

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.

Tag Archive for: veterinary