The RCVS’ Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) is trialling a series of mental health awareness courses for members of the practice team over the coming weeks.

MMI aims to make a difference to those in the veterinary team struggling with mental health issues. Image © / Fotolia

MMI aims to make a 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 in the veterinary team, with elevated rates of suicide compared with the population at large and patterns of distress, anxiety and depression, among other illnesses.

Recognising the signs

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.

Course dates are as follows:

  • Winchester: Holiday Inn, Telegraph Way, Morn Hill, Winchester SO21 1HZ – 23 November 2015, 2pm to 5pm.
  • Wrexham: Holt Lodge Hotel, Wrexham Road, Wrexham LL13 9SW – 27 November 2015, 1:30pm to 4:30pm.
  • Newcastle upon Tyne: Newcastle Marriott, Gosforth Park, High Gosforth Park, Newcastle upon Tyne NE3 5HN – 30 November 2015, 9am to 5pm. Lunch provided.
  • Coventry: Ramada Coventry, The Butts, Earlsdon, Coventry CV1 3GG – 8 December 2015, 6pm to 9:30pm. A buffet supper will be served from 6pm, with the course starting at 6:30pm.

Open to all

MMI project director Lizzie Lockett said: “The courses are open to all members of the veterinary practice team, or veterinary surgeons or nurses working in other environments.

“We would ideally like two people from each participating workplace to attend, with one being a senior person in the organisation, as we wish to ensure those attending are able to cascade information across the organisation effectively when they return and are well supported themselves. However, it’s appreciated 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 feedback will be required to help assess how effective the course has been. The training can be considered as CPD.

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