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Mental health first aider milestone surpassed by IVC Evidensia UK

Mental health first aider milestone surpassed by IVC Evidensia UK

IVC Evidensia Surpasses 500 Mental Health First Aiders And 100 Wellbeing Champions In The UK

1 year ago

11th May, 2023 10h59

IVC Evidensia UK & IE

Following the release of IVC Evidensia’s most recent Positive Pawprint report in January 2023, the UK’s leading veterinary group has announced that they have reached a milestone of over 500 Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) and over 100 Wellbeing Champions within practices across the UK.

This feeds into one of the three pillars laid out in the report, more specifically the one that encourages ‘Caring for People’ and looking after veterinary professionals who are in demanding roles in practice, by providing additional mental health and wellbeing resources and contact points for those who need it.

One of the many targets detailed in the report was to have “Rolled out the first wellbeing programmes with an initial focus on mental health support”, with 2023 being the year where this would be accomplished. 

More detail around these targets exists within the report itself:

“We are here for animals, but people are the heart of our business. Veterinary work can be physically and emotionally tough and a highly stressful situation for both our people and clients, which is why we take care of our people’s health and wellbeing. 

“This ensures they are able to manage the challenges of our work and that they have the support they need to deliver great care and flourish as individuals.”

This announcement means that UK practices are well on their way to assisting in the completion of this target, and it will only get better as a support network. 

To read the full Positive Pawprint report, head over to our dedicated page here to access it in full.

Building a support network for the future

In addition to this exceptional milestone, there is also a healthy pipeline of individuals who are waiting to be trained. There are over 80 vet professionals on the waiting list to be trained as an MHFA and over 220 waiting to be trained as Wellbeing Champions. 

Samantha Prentice, UK HR Director for IVC Evidensia, commented:

“This is a fantastic milestone reached for the group, and for the mental health of veterinary professionals working in IVC Evidensia practices across the UK. 

“I only hope that this figure continues to grow, so that we can continue to support the wellbeing of our hard-working and dedicated teams, who should be able to access the very best resources when, and if, they need it.”

There have also been several wellbeing initiatives launched internally at IVC Evidensia, such as a monthly Wellbeing Journal for staff, which details helpful guidance on everything from breath work to mindfulness tips. 

For more direct assistance, the group have also provided a Wellbeing Hub for veterinary professionals to access support articles on anxiety, depression and mental health at work. 

There are links to a whole host of resources, including the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which is available as a 24-hour confidential hotline for veterinary professionals to access if they are in need of help.

Protecting mental health for individuals

Among the hundreds who have prioritised mental health in their veterinary roles and contributed to this milestone, it is worth highlighting some individual stories of MHFAs and Wellbeing Champions.  

Caitlin Boyd has been a vet nurse at The Oaks Veterinary centre in Saltcoats for 4 years and during that time has pushed mental health and wellbeing to the forefront of her role. 

She started out as a Wellbeing Champion before becoming an MHFA after 3 years, which she has now been for just over a year. She elaborated on how important her MHFA training was:

“After I got the role of Wellbeing Champion, I changed a lot in practice. I brought in a virtual world challenge where the team would work on all wellbeing goals to reach different countries and get prizes along the way and a celebration at every destination. 

“That alone really boosted competitiveness and all-round enjoyment for getting your individual goals achieved. I often refer back to my MHFA manual when writing emails and do regular welfare check-ins with people.”

Jan Pannell has been a Practice Manager at Northdale Vets for over 20 years, and in the vet profession itself for 34 years. 

She was trained as a Mental Health First Aider just over two years ago, and the training she received is something she still utilises in-practice today:

“Having always been responsible for wellbeing in the practice, the MHFA training has given me vital tools and support for the role, which has become increasingly important.  

“The course gave me a great insight into various challenges that people can face and also challenges your perceptions and unconscious bias.  

“Having had episodes of poor mental health myself it is good to see that people are being taught how to give the correct support.  

“We are making sure that all the team know that our team of MHFA are available and willing to listen and signpost them to support if they need it.”

Jan also commented on what she has implemented in-practice, with the help of her colleagues:

“Initially I was the only active MHFA but now we have a team of 3, we are also started producing a monthly wellbeing newsletter with advice, local support groups/classes as well as few jokes and mindfulness colouring image.

“We also have various frames around the practice where wellbeing, mental health and supportive quotes are posted and a board of positivity for staff to be celebrated.”

To find out more about Mental Health and Wellbeing initiatives available to practice and support staff at IVC Evidensia, head to the website here.

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