About the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative

One of the ambitions of the VN Futures Report and Action Plan was to build a ‘confident, resilient, healthy and well-supported’ veterinary nurse workforce. Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of veterinary nurses by encouraging awareness-raising of mental ill-health, training on how to prevent mental health issues as well as identify when they occur and encouraging people to take advantage of support mechanisms, is a key component for meeting this ambition.

The Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) aims to support the mental health and wellbeing of those in the veterinary team, including registered and student veterinary nurses. The initiative was launched in 2015 to meet the needs for mental health awareness and support in the veterinary professions.  It is funded and run by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the UK. The RCVS takes the mental health and welfare of members of the veterinary profession seriously, and its five-year, £1m commitment to Mind Matters reflects this.

Its core work is divided into three streams of activity – Prevent, Protect and Support.

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative sphere logo

Mental Health Awareness Training

The programme aims to give participants the knowledge and confidence to recognise signs of the most common mental health issues, and the ability and confidence to facilitate/encourage someone to seek the right help, and to reduce the stigma around mental illness.

This programme allows people to consider their own mental health. It provides an overview of some common mental health problems, causes, symptoms and treatments, and teaches people how to:

  • recognise distress
  • be confident in providing support when issues start to present
  • guide/facilitate a person towards appropriate support
  • recognise self-help strategies
  • recognise why they may feel vulnerable
A male VN and female VN on lunch break

Resilience Training

MMI’s one-day resilience training course can provide a basis for building or maintaining you own level of resilience, or supporting others to take steps towards becoming a high resilient person.

The training is designed to equip participants with an understanding of the role emotional resilience plays in protecting our mental health, and explore some of the steps that can be taken to increase resilience and reduce the risk of developing mental health problems.

The programme itself is broken into two sections, with the first part of the day aiming to increase participants’ knowledge of emotional or psychological resilience, and the theoretical underpinnings that have resulted in the development of interventions designed to increase resilience. The second part of the day explores the life skills of highly resilient people, providing strategies that can be used both in the work and home environments.

Visit the MMI training page for more information and future dates for the above training sessions.

Side view of a veterinary nurse smiling

MMI/VMG Vet Wellbeing in Practice course

The Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS),  Veterinary Management Group (VMG) and RCVS Mind Matters Initiative will together run a series of Vet Wellbeing in Practice events in 2020 as a development of the Vet Wellbeing Awards.

A member of the Workplace Wellbeing team at Mind the mental health charity, or the Scottish Association for Mental Health, provides an introduction to wellbeing in the workplace. Senior HR Consultant, Elaine Fisher and Kamal Chauhan explain your legal obligations around stress management.

Tracey Morley Jewkes draws on case studies from four years of SPVS/MMI Vet Wellbeing Awards and her own experience to offer practical and achievable ways to improve wellbeing in any practice, large or small. She is joined by team members from Vet Wellbeing Award winning practices.

Clinical Directors, Practice Managers, Head Nurses, or Practice Owners who have responsibility for the health, wellbeing and productivity of a team, will all benefit from this course.

You can access information about the courses available on the SPVS VMG events website.

SPVS / MMI Vet Wellbeing Awards

To highlight and celebrate the significance of wellbeing in vet practices, the Awards were created by SPVS in partnership with Mind Matters. This next award nomination period will launch in autumn 2020. In the meantime you can find out more and access case studies of previous award winners, at:

in the meantime you can find out more and access case studies of previous award winners on the Vet Wellbeing Awards website.

You can also access the Wellbeing Checklist to see if your practice is meeting wellbeing best practice , and find out how you can do more to enhance workplace wellbeing.

&Me

&me is a mental health anti-stigma campaign for health professionals that aims to encourage senior people within  professions to come forward with their stories about their struggles with mental ill-health. The aim is to show that we all have mental health, and that a mental health problem does not exclude people from achieving leading roles in healthcare.

By reducing stigma and showing that it is possible to continue to flourish in your career, no matter where you are on the mental health continuum, these role models will help those who are not yet seeking help or who are struggling with their diagnosis to speak to appropriate people.

You can access health professionals’ inspiring stories on the MMI &me page.

Further resources

Visit the MMI Resources page to access links to useful articles, literature and videos generated by this Initiative for reference and support.  You can also find a useful list of organisations that provide support and advice on the MMI Help & advice page.