Veterinary body to tackle 3 biggest mental health concerns

A UK body has committed to tackling three of the veterinary’s biggest mental health worries – online abuse, self-harming and eating disorders.

Mental health is a topic of growing importance around the world and the problems surrounding it continue to grow each year.

It comes as new research has shown that out of all the rural professionals they work with, UK farmers are most likely to turn to vets for help with stress and mental health issues. But the veterinary profession is not without its own troubles.

It has been said that one in four people in the general population will experience mental health issues each year. By 2030, there will be an estimated two million more adults – in the UK alone – suffering with mental health problems.

Veterinary industry and mental health

Sadly, mental health problems are something which the veterinary industry knows all too much about.

According to Vetlife, there is evidence of higher levels of psychological distress in the veterinary profession along with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts compared to the general population.

In countries where research has been conducted, this has been seen to be true.

AgriLand this week, spoke to Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters manager, who highlighted the fact that vets are up to four times more likely to die by suicide than members of the general public.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative has organised a free series of webinars over the next three months, in an attempt to raise awareness of the on-going problems around mental health among veterinarians.

The series comprises of three webinars, which will look at issues such as cyberbullying, eating disorders and self-harm among the veterinary profession – areas of significant importance in the line of work.

Each of the one-hour webinars will be hosted by professional development website The Webinar Vet and takes place at 12:30pm on the given date.

The webinar titles and dates – in the order of which they occur – are listed below:
  • Thursday, March 26, 2020 – Navigating online complaints and cyber-bullying;
  • Tuesday, April 28, 2020 – Understanding eating disorders;
  • Tuesday, May 19, 2020 – Self-harm in veterinary professionals.

Online complaints and cyber-bullying

This webinar is presented by Dr. Ebony Escalona MRCVS, the founder of the ‘Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify’ Facebook group; with input from social media strategist Fay Schofield.

Dr. Escalona will look at the damaging effects that online complaints and cyber-bullying can have on the health and wellbeing of the veterinary team.

The webinar aims to help take the fear out of online complaints by giving delegates the tools and techniques they can use to:

  • Deal with complaints confidently;
  • Identify ways to prevent online complaints escalating;
  • Showcase ways of resolving online complaints;
  • Explain the difference between bad publicity and cyber-bullying; and
  • Give a list of practical tips to mitigate cyber-bullying when it occurs.

Understanding eating disorders

This webinar is presented by RCVS Mind Matters officer Rachel Pascoe, a qualified social worker with postgraduate qualifications in mental health and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Pascoe will provide an overview of the different types of eating disorders, along with detailing the physiological and psychological impacts of living with an eating disorder.

The webinar will provide delegates with the tools to identify early warning signs, learn about some of the common misconceptions around eating disorders, and build up a broad understanding of the barriers to recovery and how to support others who are presenting with an eating disorder.

Self-harm in veterinary professionals

This webinar is presented by Dr. Rosie Allister MRCVS, who manages the Vetlife Helpline and is a member of the MMI Taskforce.

Dr. Allister will look at what self-harm is, why people do it, and to understand the function of this behaviour.

It will give delegates an understanding of how to respond to concerns about self-harm, including providing support in the workplace and countering discrimination.

It will also look at myths around self-harm and how these can contribute to stigma and discrimination.

How to access any of the webinars

To sign up to any of these free webinars, just go to The Webinar Vet website.

“These webinars tackle some very serious issues that not only impact the health and wellbeing of the veterinary world, but much of wider society as well,” said Lisa Quigley.

While some of these topics may be challenging, it is important that we don’t shy away from them and provide members of the veterinary team with the knowledge, the tools and the confidence to help and support colleagues who may be affected.

For those who are not able to listen live, links to the webinar recordings will be made available on the Mind Matters Initiative website after the event.