Over the last few years the importance of mental health within both personal and private life has been increasingly covered in the media. Indeed, last month witnessed the VCMS cover World Mental Health Day, in particular, focusing on the beneficial effects pets can have on our mental health and wellbeing. September saw this trend continue as the RCVS hosted students, academics and university support staff for the first ever Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) event focused exclusively on identifying issues and finding solutions regarding the mental health of veterinary students.
Taking place on Monday 23rd September at Church House, the event witnessed faculties and student bodies of 10 universities participate, including representatives from the eight UK veterinary schools, as well as University College Dublin in the Republic of Ireland and the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
The objective of the event was to identify the challenges around student mental health, consider where gaps may exist and how they can be mitigated, and form a network that can be continued beyond the event.
Lizzie Lockett, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) CEO and MMI Director commented: ‘Over my time as Director of the Mind Matters Initiative I have been to many events about student mental health in which I saw fantastic research being done and really proactive preventative initiatives by the universities, as well as support mechanisms for those with mental ill-health. However, there was often one voice missing in it all – that of the students themselves.’
The programme of the event included presentations from each of the universities represented in which they had the opportunity to talk about university-and-student-led initiatives to encourage students to be mindful of their wellbeing, encourage those who may need help to seek it, and provide support for students who have diagnosed mental health conditions. Following on, there were talks for those involved in student welfare, wellbeing and mental health. What’s more, an interactive panel Q and A session, chaired by Professor Stuart Reid, Principal of the RVC and outgoing Chair of the Mind Matters Initiative, and featured all three speakers, covered the efficacy of resilience training and how to change the learning culture around perfectionism.
The delegates also participated in a series of activities where they tackles issues such as the stigma around accessing support, the ‘hidden curriculum’, and the culture of perfectionism and long hours.
For more information on the Mind Matters Initiative, visit www.vetmindmatters.org.