The Mind Matters initiative was set up by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in response to studies showing the suicide rate among veterinary surgeons is more than three times higher than that in the general population.
It aims to reduce the numbers in the profession suffering from clinical depression by increasing knowledge about mental wellbeing. It will also show how to build resilience in dealing with stress and aims to dispel the stigma about mental illness that may prevent people seeking help.
The Wellbeing Checklist goes through a range of initiatives and management systems that can help your staff keep healthier and happier. The list is by no means exhaustive, and you may well have other initiatives or a different approach. Every practice will be different and it is important that your policies and strategies are tailored to your practice and your people.
The questions cover such things as whether or not you have a daily debrief or morning huddle; whether you have regular practice meetings and annual appraisals and if ‘no blame’ morbidity and mortality rounds are regularly held. It asks if you provide fresh fruit in the staff room or a ‘cycle to work’ scheme and whether you have a summer barbeque and a Christmas party. In each case the questions elaborate on the value of each initiative with some pointers.
Individual examples of questions:
A 5 minute huddle at the beginning of the day is a very time effective way of communicating who is working and what is happening during the day. This proactive approach improves awareness, understanding of other team members needs and can reduce stressors throughout the day. Do you do a 5 minute huddle?
A daily debrief is similar to the huddle at the beginning of the day. A 5-minute huddle before everyone leaves is an ideal time to reflect and debrief on the day, reducing the incidence of team members taking their thoughts, feelings and perhaps frustrations home with them to ruminate on overnight. Do you do daily debriefs?
Ideally monthly with as many of the team in attendance as possible. The aim of these more formal meetings is to discuss bigger projects, concerns and celebrate successes. Do you hold regular whole practice meetings?
Do you hold regular Morbidity and Mortality Rounds to discuss clinical challenges, difficult cases and potential mistakes and is there a no blame culture to allow discussion in an open honest safe and constructive environment? Creating the environment to have these discussions and respect the clinical views and decisions of other team members builds a stronger and safer team.
Do you have a policy of not tolerating poor attitude or behaviour and is it understood among your staff that shouting, threatening or abusive language will not be tolerated? Nor will physical abuse or passing on negative and hurtful hearsay or gossip?