The Veterinary Benevolent Fund celebrated the launch of its new Vetlife website on November 24 at the London Vet Show, where it had been selected as the official charity of the show.

The Veterinary Benevolent Fund celebrated the launch of its new Vetlife website on November 24 at the London Vet Show, where it had been selected as the official charity of the show. 

Interactive play, entitled Help for HelenThe Vetlife website has been written by Dr Adrian Longstaffe, a veterinary surgeon and practising psychotherapist, working with a team led by Nick Short from London’s Royal Veterinary College who is a VBF director.

It is an enormous new resource with more than 50 pages of content and over 700 useful links, designed to inform and help support those dealing with any of the issues commonly faced by veterinary professionals that may lead to stress and depression

The launch was celebrated with an programme of events, which attracted many new faces and younger members of the profession.

The afternoon event included:

  • An interactive drama about a young vet in her first job in a somewhat dysfunctional practice. The performance set the scene for the afternoon and effectively reminded everyone present of the difficulties vets can encounter on a daily basis.
  • A presentation by Brian Faulkner, managing director of Frontfoot Consultancy and 2008 Petplan vet of the year, in which he explored current theories from the science of positive psychology and raised a number of interesting questions about typical mindsets of vets and whether these mindsets were detrimental to the development of the resilience needed in a veterinary career.
  • A panel discussion led by Nick Short entitled “What does the veterinary profession need to do to improve its mental health support?”

 

Vetlife Panel, including [L-R] Mfanwy Hill, Rory O’Connor, Nick Short, Rosie Allister, Jade Statt and Nicky Paull.

While acknowledging that progress had been made in the provision of mental health support in recent years (specifically, the introduction of the RCVS Health Protocol and the Veterinary Surgeons’ Health Support Scheme), it was agreed that there was still a need for “a uniform responsible system of mentoring new staff”, and need for more support when problems first arise and before they develop into a crisis – described by Mr Short as “keeping people away from the cliff edge“.  

It was also agreed that support for older veterinary colleagues should be given as high a priority as help for new graduates. 

VBF president Lydia Brown said the profession has a duty of care to protect colleagues in distress and that the new Vetlife website was an innovative and important step forward for the veterinary profession.

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