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RCVS Mind Matters and BEVA launch short film to support equine vet mental health

9 October 2020

To coincide with this year’s World Mental Health Day our Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has joined forces with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) to raise awareness of the mental health and wellbeing challenges facing equine veterinary surgeons, and to offer advice and support.

On 10 October 2020, MMI and BEVA will launch a short animated film featuring a typical ‘day in the life’ of a young equine veterinary surgeon, the highs and lows that such a day might encompass, and some simple measures to support good mental health.

Co-produced by the two organisations, the film depicts both the undeniable sense of accomplishment equine vets experience, for example, when saving a life or getting a tricky mare in foal, and the highly stressful days where things don’t go as well, despite best efforts.

Implementing mechanisms to help vets cope with work-related stressors, as well as reducing barriers to seeking mental health support, may well reduce the risks of serious psychological distress and suicide

Susan Dawson, MMI Chair

The film goes on to suggest a number of simple changes equine vets can incorporate into their day to help maintain a healthy work-life balance, some practical ways to make the most challenging days more manageable, and general good practice to help equine veterinary professionals keep things in perspective.

Susan Dawson, Chair of the Mind Matters Initiative, says: "Well-established research has shown that veterinary professionals across multiple sectors are at a higher risk of serious psychological distress and suicide. There is also evidence, however, that implementing mechanisms to help vets cope with work-related stressors, as well as reducing barriers to seeking mental health support, may well reduce these risks.

"We’re therefore very pleased to be launching this animation for World Mental Health Day 2020. Over the past few years, the increased focus on mental health and wellbeing amongst veterinary professionals has led to a greater understanding that if we, as vets, consistently implement small changes to our day, it can have a significant positive impact on our lives.

“Just simple things like listening to a podcast when driving to calls, calling a friend or colleague for a chat, and making time to stop for lunch, can increase our resilience and help us put things in perspective.”

This animation provides a few suggestions of small changes that everyone can make to help gain perspective. It’s not rocket science, or a magic wand, but there is strong evidence that small consistent changes can really help.

Lucy Grieve, BEVA President

Lucy Grieve, President of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), says: "For most equine vets, most of the time, the job is fantastic – for many, it’s the only career we ever imagined ourselves pursuing. But some of us feel we should always be perfect, which can have a negative impact, particularly when things don’t go to plan.

"Recognising that perfection is not always achievable is crucial in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, whilst still striving for a fulfilling career. We know that, increasingly, equine vets receive some support from colleagues and mentors in practice, but this animation provides a few suggestions of small changes that everyone can make to help gain perspective. It’s not rocket science, or a magic wand, but there is strong evidence that small consistent changes can really help.”  

The animation also includes information about the support resources available from Mind Matters, as well as contact details for the veterinary community support charity, Vetlife, and encourages vets to make use of the support available as early as possible.

The animation will be available to watch and share on MMI, BEVA and RCVS websites and social media channels from Saturday 10 October. Any practices wishing to obtain a high-resolution version to use for training purposes should contact MMI Manager Lisa Quigley at l.quigley@rcvs.org.uk.

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