RCVS puts money toward mental health resources

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The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons announced Feb. 13 a total of about $1.54 million (1 million pounds) in funding to address mental health and well-being within the U.K. veterinary profession over the next five years.

Approximately half will go toward the Veterinary Surgeons’ Health Support Programme, effectively doubling the college’s current contribution. The VSHSP, independently run by the Veterinary Benevolent Fund, offers a confidential service that aims to combat problems with alcohol and drugs, eating disorders, and other addictions and mental health issues.

The Mind Matters Initiative will receive the other half of the funding. Launched in December 2014, the initiative seeks to increase the accessibility and acceptance of support, encouraging a culture that is better equipped to talk and deal with stress and related mental health issues, and, ultimately, helping to reduce such triggers within the profession. Mind Matters is supported by a task force comprising eight veterinary organizations that represent students, schools, veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and practice managers in the U.K.

Mind Matters will receive $156,343 a year for the next five years. Its main activities are as follows:

  • Research within the veterinary profession into such factors as occupational stress and research among related professions and private- and public-sector organizations that have successfully tackled similar issues.
  • A communications program that seeks to help generate a positive environment for discussion, reduce stigma, increase awareness and the ability to identify risks, and encourage help-seeking behavior.
  • Financial and other support for existing services such as the Vet Helpline and Veterinary Surgeons’ Health Support Programme, together with an investigation into what more may be required to support those in need.
  • Training and guidance for those who may be working or living with someone who needs assistance, to help those supporters spot and understand signs of stress and mental illness and then assist the person in seeking expert help.
  • Working closely with the joint RCVS/British Veterinary Association Vet Futures Group project to help identify aspects of the profession’s structure and activities—from veterinary education to retirement—that exacerbate stress and mental health problems and consider how they may be addressed.

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