‘Tough Topics’ on the Agenda at VMG Congress

Animal Health

Two of the toughest challenges facing the veterinary profession – suicide prevention and supporting your team after a challenging event in practice - will be tackled head on at this year’s VMG Congress. The event, which aims to offer an innovative and educational but also highly practical programme for those working in or aspiring to veterinary leadership roles takes place on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 June at the Crowne Plaza in Stratford upon Avon. Studies have shown that the prevalence of suicide in the veterinary profession is up to four times greater than the general population*. While mental health issues within the profession are being discussed more openly these days, suicide remains a difficult subject but colleagues can play a vital role in detecting if a team member is struggling. For this reason, increasing understanding of the signs to look out for and best practice on prevention and intervention is essential.

To tackle this problem, VMG Congress includes a Suicide Prevention Training Workshop. It will be led by Kevin Moore and Bob Kitchin of Big Dog Little Dog, a not-for-profit business specialising in psychological wellbeing and mental health, and Sherry Adams, CEO of We Mind & Kelly Matters, a suicide prevention charity. Together, they will help delegates understand:

“suicide prevention and supporting your team after a challenging event in practice - will be tackled head on at this year’s VMG Congress“

· Suicide ambivalence, the suicidal mind and early signs to be alert for

· Warning signs transmitted during suicide crisis and how to approach a colleague about suicide

· Myths and good practice in suicide prevention and intervention.

Sherry Adams is a psychotherapist with lived experience of suicide, who delivers suicide and bereavement counselling. She will be on hand after the workshop to answer questions and, in her role as a Samaritan’s Listener, will be available to anyone who wants to talk.

Finding the right way to support and debrief your team after a challenging event can also be fraught with difficulty so Amy Martin RVN, Director of Holly House Vets, will lead a session on this during

Congress, to help veterinary leaders learn how to stay resilient enough to retain their compassion while working in a demanding profession.

Amy Martin was the first veterinary professional to adopt the Schwartz Rounds approach to discussing the emotional and social impact of their work with her teams. It is already widely used in human healthcare and the approach will be demonstrated during her session. Amy Martin works as a Practice Director in a multi-site first opinion and referral group and is undertaking a Master’s in People and Organisation Development.

The Congress website with full details of the programme and ticket pricing is available at: https://vmgevents.co.uk/

Commenting VMG Director Liz Somerville said: “All of our sessions will emphasise practical steps that our delegates can take, whether to improve the profitability of their business or well-being, mental health and career opportunities within their teams. Individuals working in the veterinary sector sometimes have to confront the most difficult and painful challenges so providing specific support and guidance on handling these situations was a priority for us as we developed the programme.” The VMG is the professional association for all those in leadership and management roles in the veterinary sector. It empowers and equips veterinary leaders and their organisations to learn, share, and grow. * https://bvajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1136/vr.162.2.36

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