On the 14th of July BSAVA, in association with Mind Matters, sponsored an event held in Romsey, Hampshire. This was one of a series of twelve Mind Matters meetings being held in each of the Association's UK regions.
The Mind Matters initiative was set up by the RCVS in response to studies which showed that the suicide rate amongst veterinary surgeons is three times greater than that of the general population. BSAVA announced at Congress this year that it would support the initiative through regional CPD aimed at helping attendees gain a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health.
The speaker at the Romsey event, Trevor Bell, is a specialist mental health trainer who is a prominent figure behind Mental Health First Aid England. In 2012, he was recognised by the House of Lords and given an award for his contribution to the development of the MHFA course and to increasing mental health literacy in the UK. He has been working with the RCVS since 2014 and delivers courses for numerous large organisations.
At the beginning of the session, Trevor Bell put forward a definition of mental health as:
“The emotional and spiritual resilience which allows us to enjoy life and survive pain, disappointment and sadness..” (Health Education Authority 1997).
“The speaker challenged everyone to look more deeply into the meaning of mental health and explained that we live with mental health every day. It is not something to be ashamed of, but something to be embraced as a continuum. Everyone has mental health, it is just different for different people and it can be good or bad” explained Regional Committee member and delegate Eleanor O’Leary. “What is important is empowering ourselves and others so we can all can develop and maintain resilience to the trials and struggles of day-to-day life and enjoy a good quality of life. Mental health should not be stigmatised, and it is an important part of our well-being that we need to acknowledge.
“Never before had I looked at mental health in such a light. It is something I always viewed as something not to be openly discussed, it was something that was tolerated, but not spoken about for fear of the negative connotations that may be associated with it. It was an excellent course, and a lot of material was covered in three hours. Mr Bell was an exceptionally passionate and engaging speaker and the content was extremely relevant to everyday life.”
As this programme rolls out across the regions it is hoped that its impact will have a lasting effect on delegates and their practices. “Though it was not a counselling course, by the end of the session, I felt more confident in how I might manage a conversation regarding mental health with my colleagues and how to help guide them to more relevant sources of professional help” Eleanor explained. “I also left feeling a little more aware of my own needs to better support my mental health.”
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