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Northern Ireland peer support service launches with MMI support

A specialist service to provide mental health and wellbeing support for all members of the veterinary community in Northern Ireland has been launched.

Vet Support NI is a confidential service that will support any individual involved in the veterinary profession – including vets, veterinary nurses and other support staff – and will be delivered by local members of the veterinary community who have been specifically trained to provide a safe, empathetic, non-judgemental and confidential service. The service was founded by Vet NI, an umbrella organisation representing veterinary organisations in Northern Ireland, with funding support from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative.

Des Thompson from Vet NI is the force behind the project. He said: “This is a service for any member of the veterinary community who is feeling stressed or suffering from any form of mental ill-health or poor wellbeing, and complements already existing services such as the Vetlife Helpline.

“The motto behind the service is listening, supporting and signposting. For example, our team can help people manage their stress or anxiety, teach calming techniques and coping mechanisms, provide advice on supporting colleagues and refer people on if they need additional or more complex support and advice.

“The advantage of the service is that it is local and service users will be communicating with named team members who are vets and vet nurses from their community. However, all matters will be strictly confidential.”

Lizzie Lockett, Director of the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative, added: “We are very glad to provide support to launch this unique service. For many people, it is important that their support comes from within the local community, from people who may better understand the pressures they are under and the problems they are facing. We will be watching the progress of the service with interest to see if it might be rolled out in other communities within the UK.”

Further information about the service, including profiles of the support team members, can be found at www.vetsupportni.co.uk.

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