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Lighthouse with crashing storm waves

MMI & BSAVA’s ‘resilience course’ pilot proves popular

In partnership with the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), the Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) will be piloting resilience training courses for veterinary professionals throughout February 2019.

These free, full-day courses count towards a veterinary professional’s continuing professional development and are designed to help attendees gain the tools to become more resilient in their working lives, and safeguard their mental wellbeing. The courses have proven incredibly popular, with all four location events reaching full capacity in a short space of time. This exemplifies the need for courses such as these, with an ever-increasing focus on the wellbeing of veterinary professionals.

Lisa Quigley, MMI Manager, said: “I am thrilled at the popularity of these resilience training courses, which goes to show that the veterinary profession is becoming increasingly proactive about improving wellbeing in the workplace. When it comes to mental health and wellbeing, resilience is only one part of the jigsaw; but it is an important part, and one that we can all take steps to build upon in our daily lives. I am delighted to be working with such fantastic training providers who are helping us reach veterinary professionals throughout the UK.”

 The courses will be held on the following dates:

  • 1 February – Belfast Hilton – with Mary Bannon from PIPS Programmes
  • 13 February – Elephant and Castle Hotel, Newtown Powys with Barry Lewis
  • 26 February – Apex Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh with the Samaritans
  • 4 March – RCVS London with Work Psychology Group

The term resilience is not intended to focus on the individual ‘toughening up’ to better suit their workplace, but rather to focus on their overall wellbeing and general resilience throughout their lives, both professionally and personally.

Resilience is one of the most powerful tools to possess in a personal wellbeing ‘toolkit’. It allows adequate response to the pressures of everyday life and to ‘bounce back’ when things get tough. Building resilience can be particularly important in the veterinary profession, in which it is known that veterinary professionals display higher than average rates of depression and anxiety, and that, sadly, vets are at an increased risk of suicide.

Speaking about the workshops, BSAVA’s Senior Vice-President, John Chitty, said: “BSAVA is delighted to be joining with the Mind Matters Initiative in supporting this preliminary series of workshops. Mental health problems are a very serious problem in all sectors of the veterinary industry, and BSAVA are glad to be able to support these events that will enable participants to not only learn to help themselves, but also to take back to their practices and workplaces and help colleagues. BSAVA is looking forward to subsequently hosting a series of workshops based on feedback from this preliminary series that will be hosted across the BSAVA Regions over the next 12 to 18 months.”

Please contact Mind Matters Initiative Manager, Lisa Quigley, for further information, or visit the Training page where you can also find links to register for upcoming courses via the MMI Eventbrite page.

The Webinar Vet logo

Mind Matters Initiative focuses on new wellbeing webinar series

We are pleased to announce a new series of webinars to be hosted by The Webinar Vet, focusing on how to increase wellbeing.

The first webinar takes place on Thursday 13 December at 1pm and will focus on the link between psychological wellbeing and regular outdoor exercise. The webinar will be hosted by Oli Glackin, the RCVS Leadership Initiative Manager who is also a consultant in the psychology of exercise, and Nat Scroggie MRCVS, a keen marathon runner who is known for her blog, ‘This Vet Runs’. The webinar is titled, ‘”I know it’ll be good for me tomorrow”: physical activity, the elixir that’s just around the corner’.

The webinar will explore what is commonly known about the positive relationship between physical activity and psychological wellbeing and mental health, including details of exercise ‘dose’ and intensity. It will also focus on changing the way we approach physical exercise, the sorts of motivators that work for us individually, the introduction of fun and pleasure into the regime of exercise, and will seek to help participants improve their own relationship with exercise.

Nat Scroggie will also be speaking personally about her own journey with exercise and how it has had a positive impact on her wellbeing.

She said: “It’s been an absolute honour to be involved in promoting well-being in the veterinary profession, and to share my own story. Exercise has been my biggest tool in managing my first few years in practice. It has been a relief from the day to day stresses, whilst also giving me a challenge and identity outside of my working life. I’m a pretty average runner, but I recently ran my first marathon, something I never ever thought I could do. It’s hard to explain how much confidence those 26.2 miles have given me in my working life, even if it seems like it’s nothing to do with finally nailing a bitch spay.

“Making time to do something that’s great for your body, and your mind, is allowing yourself the time to prioritise you. As veterinary professionals we are brilliant at caring for our clients and patients, but it’s amazing what we can achieve when we allow ourselves that same compassion.”

Sign up to take part in this webinar, which can also count towards a veterinary surgeon’s or veterinary nurse’s continuing professional development.

In January 2019, the RCVS’ MMI project will be holding a series of webinars on the evening of the ‘Pre-Congress Associates Day’ on Friday 18 January 2019, ahead of the Webinar Vet’s Virtual Congress from Saturday 19 to Sunday 20 January.

The webinar series focus on veterinary wellbeing and are as follows:

  • 7pm – 7.30pm: Qualified accountant and wellbeing advisor Jo Stevens will present ‘How to stay positive in a negative world’.
  • 7.30pm – 8pm: Positive psychologist and professional wellbeing coach will present ‘How thinking positively makes life easier’.
  • 8pm – 8.30pm: Leadership coach and trainer Anne-Marie Svendsen-Aylott will talk about ‘Understanding the concept of “mindset” – a key to finding a more positive outlook.’
  • 8.30pm – 9pm: Dr Sara Tai, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Manchester and Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, will be presenting ‘Living the life you want’.

Any member of the veterinary team is welcome to take part in the Webinar Vet Virtual Congress and the sessions being run by the RCVS. Visit the Virtual Congress website for more information, and to purchase tickets.

Mike Scanlan

From ‘mind full’ to mindful with series of stress-reduction webinars

Next year the Mind Matters Initiative (MMI), in conjunction with The Webinar Vet, will hold a series of mindfulness-based stress-reduction webinars, which aim to improve wellbeing of all those in the veterinary team including students, veterinary nurses, veterinary surgeons and practice managers.

Registrations are now open for the eight one-hour webinars, which start on Wednesday 1 February 2017 and will run on every Wednesday night from 8pm to 9pm until 22 March 2017.

The sessions will be led by Dr Mike Scanlan, a Mental Health and Wellbeing Consultant, and are based on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn from the Centre for Mindfulness Medicine and Research at the University of Massachusetts.

Lizzie Lockett, the Director of the Mind Matters Initiative, says: “Mindfulness is based on the practical skills of noticing, mindful movement and meditation that can help with physical and psychological problems as well as ongoing life challenges.

“Both scientific research and reports from course participants, including those who took part in a similar series of webinars earlier this year, indicate that there are a wealth of physical and psychological benefits to be gained from participating in mindfulness activities.”

Mike adds: “The sessions will help those who take part develop mindfulness through meditation practices, gentle movement and body aware exercises. There are also informal practices such as bringing mindful attention to ordinary, everyday experiences like brushing your teeth, eating a mouthful of food or waiting for a train.”

A ticket for an individual covering the whole eight weeks is available to purchase for £40 (plus VAT) or a practice ticket for up to 10 team members can be purchased for just £200 (plus VAT). Those who are not able to listen to every session live will be able to listen again to the sessions shortly after they are broadcast.

To purchase tickets and register please visit the webinar vet website.

Mind Matters Initiative teams up with The Webinar Vet to offer online mindfulness course

As part of our Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) the College has teamed up with The Webinar Vet to offer an online series of eight one-hour mindfulness-based stress reduction sessions, entitled ‘Turning mind-full to mindful’.

The evidence base for the positive impact of mindfulness has been growing over recent years. The practice, which grew out of Buddhist traditions of meditation, has been credited with helping to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, improve sleep patterns and general wellbeing, and even make positive physical changes to the brain.

The University of Oxford Mindfulness Centre defines mindfulness as: “The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, with compassion, and open-hearted curiosity. Through cultivating mindful awareness, we discover how to live in the present moment rather than brooding about the past or worrying about the future.”

The sessions will be run by Dr Mike Scanlan, of KindMinds.org, who has run similar courses for human medical professionals.

“This is course is not for those who are in crisis, who should seek direct medical help, but aims to give members of the veterinary team the skills they need to help control their mental landscape in a positive way,” says Mike.

“People may be wary about embarking on a mindfulness course and feel that to gain benefits will be time-consuming. But achieving even ten minutes of mindfulness each day can bring real benefits.

“There are now randomised control trials which show that mindfulness delivered online is effective, and it’s just so easy to access that I would encourage any member of the veterinary team to sign up.”

Comments from attendees of Mike’s previous courses include:

  • “This eight-week course has been so valuable, I’ve learnt the art of mindfulness and now put it into daily practice.”
  • “Mindfulness helps me to calm and quieten my whirling thoughts, to relax and de-stress.”
  • “This course has changed my life – I now live well by gently checking in with myself and asking if what I am doing is working for me, if it isn’t, I stop doing it and do something else.”

“I am delighted that we have been able to work with Dr Mike Scanlan and The Webinar Vet to deliver this innovative programme,” says Lizzie Lockett, MMI Project Director.

“Since MMI began we have been hearing great things about the power of mindfulness. The challenge has been how to make it accessible, given practitioners’ busy lives and the stigma that stops some people from feeling able to access any form of wellbeing support in a public way.

“This webinar-based series can be accessed from home, at any time, and is a perfect entry-point to the benefits of mindfulness. Through MMI funding, we hope that the pricing of the sessions will make them accessible to all.”

The sessions will run from 8-9pm, commencing on Tuesday 26 April and finishing on Tuesday 14 June. Delegates ought not to worry if they miss a session, as they will be recorded and available to listen on demand.

A one-to-one chat function will be available during the webinars, and Mike will be on hand for support online and by phone between sessions. And, of course, anyone can access confidential help at any time via the VetLife Helpline (0303 040 2551) or confidential email service.

The eight-session series will cost £40 +VAT, which has been discounted from £200 + VAT thanks to MMI funding. A practice ticket will also be available at £200 +VAT for up to ten members of staff.