Help needed? Not sure? Afraid to admit it to yourself or others? Mental health problems start small and snowball – as with all the conditions we treat as vets, early intervention is best. Follow your own advice to clients and act sooner.
Vetlife provide free confidential support 24:7 to vets and veterinary nurses. Contact them on 0303 040 2551 or click here to send a confidential email. SANEline is open 4.30pm to 10.30pm every day on 0300 304 7000, offering support for anyone affected by mental illness. Samaritans offer confidential support and advice 24:7 freephone 116123
Help in your local area – click here for Hub of Hope; signposts local MH services – you simply type in your postcode.
Textcare – regular supportive text service by the charity SANE. Simply click here to sign up.
Not sure if you need help? Click here to take the free NHS Mood tests to find out how you really are and whether it’s time to take the brave and vital step to seek help.
Self-care – If you don’t look after yourself, you cannot look after someone else… or their pets… effectively. Self-care is vital; watch our webinar with Dr Claire Gillvray, or read the full blog from Psychology Today:
“Keep in mind that you can only help others if you’re helping yourself first, physically, mentally and spiritually. As much as we want to think desire and passion are enough, they’re not. You need a healthy body and an open mind to function, which aren’t present if you’re filled with self-doubt. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s definitely worth it.”
Mental Health First Aid should be as important as Physical First Aid; click here for information on training. Has someone confided in you and you’re not sure how to help? Download a free comprehensive guide to helping someone with depression from the Blurt Foundation here. The Black Dog Institute also has resources for supporting young people suffering with mental ill health.
Helping Clients – One of the greatest challenges can be helping an animal patient when the mental health of their owner isn’t great. And nothing I was taught prepared me for that. Here’s a blog collating some great advice by Rosie Allister of Vetlife gave on a Facebook thread.
Winston Churchill described his depression as the black dog that came and went throughout his life. Managing depression and living with someone with depression are brilliantly tackled in the Black Dog Youtube clips on the links. Work-related depression is tackled brilliantly in the attached blog. Or at the NHS website here.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation – a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Mental Health Foundation has an excellent Mindfulness summary and links to free resources, printed and web based. There’s also a section discussing whether or not mindfulness is just a fad, and whether or not it’s for you, and a stress test to see where you’re head is at!
Exercises – the Positive Psychology Forum has a comprehensive blog starting with simple, basic mindfulness techniques and progressing through to more involved exercises. Quite a long read so maybe pick one or two to try and progress if you find it useful.
Headspace – popular app; paid for, but I only ever hear good things!
Vet Mindfully is a blog site giving some good examples of daily application of mindfulness – from the mindful consult to the mindful bitch spay.
Dwelling on mistakes and problems is an addictive trait, with significant adverse effects on both emotional and physical health.
Mistakes are inevitable, but if we learn from them and move forward better and stronger then everybody gains. There are hidden dangers to ruminating; adverse effects on both physical and mental health. Click here for more information
“Replaying conversations in your head or imagining catastrophic outcomes over and over again isn’t helpful. But solving a problem is.
Ask yourself whether your thinking is productive. If you are actively solving a problem, such as trying to find ways to increase your chances of success, keep working on solutions.
If, however, you’re wasting your time ruminating, change the channel in your brain. Acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t helpful, and get up and go do something else for a few minutes to get your brain focused on something more productive.”
Resilience has been described as:
“The capacity to maintain personal control and robust attitudes in the face of challenging events and behaviours.” – Professor Mowbray
Blogs: Developing Resilience to Survive in Practice is a BVA blog written by Carolyne Crowe, explaining what resilience is and the fact it is not something we’re born with, but a process we have to work on.
Resilience vs. improving practice:
Do we need to steel ourselves and become mentally tougher to deal with the challenges of practice life… or is enough, finally enough and should we be changing the way practice works for the betterment of its members? The latter will take time, so we need to encourage the former so our workforce doesn’t burn out in the interim.
This is a talking therapy which aims to help you deal with problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. You’re shown how to change negative patterns to improve the way you feel. It can be done face-to-face, over the phone, or online, with both free and paid services. You have to be committed to the process, which may be challenging and uncomfortable at times. The NHS website has good advice, and a self-referral service, and an online self-help resource guide. The charity, Mind, summarises resources well.
RCVS Mind Matters have produced a free wellbeing guide aimed at ANYONE interested in improving practice life – download for free
Petra Agthe is a veterinary radiologist who wrote a charity blog weekly throughout 2017. The main aim of the blog was to spread the knowledge that we can all achieve a greater level of well-being; The Good Life Campaign. She’s now compiled all the blogs in an e-book.
Surprisingly common in vet practice due to the antisocial hours and loss of support network after graduating. Loneliness can adversely affect physical as well as mental health. Watch our webinar with Dr Clive Elwood Read more HERE.
It’s important, but often lacking. That lack should not be hailed as a badge of honour as it adversely affects performance and safety for all concerned. Click here for sleep resources.
Exercise is well known to reduce stress and improve mental health, but can be hard to fit into busy working lives. However, even a regular 10 minute walk in fresh air can have significant health benefits over time. Vetfit have evidence based resources and practice programmes to get us all moving.
BEVA has a great resource with news, blogs, CPD and podcasts on their wellbeing page
Or download this free e-book by resilience trainer Shari Khan: 7 Guaranteed Ways to Reduce Stress, Stop Feeling Overwhelmed at Work, and Get Your Life Back. It takes 20 minutes to read and has a simply step by step practical guide to improving your wellbeing.
Showing or receiving an act of kindness can improve both the giver and receiver’s wellbeing… and even save a life.
Do you feel you are trapped or stagnating in a job with little control over your own destiny? Are your ideas for practice development side-lined or ignored? Read this great blog on LEADING UPWARDS by Caroline Pearson of Progressive Vet Consulting
Mental health problems cost employers in the UK £30 billion a year through lost production, recruitment and absence – so why aren’t we doing more about it? Read HERE about how you can help your employees, and improve productivity.
Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity, “We want students to have the skills, knowledge and confidence to talk about their mental health and look out for their peers. We believe in peer support and deliver research-driven training and supervision to equip students to bring about positive change on their campuses through campaigning and facilitating peer support projects”.