Our new mental health course starts this week, with the return of the reliable and popular Mike Scanlan. In his new course, Mike will take a slightly different educational approach to this complex and vast topic, as he explores the role that we all play in looking out for our friends’ and colleagues’ wellbeing.

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In “Mental Health First Responder Training Session One – An Emotional Health Check for all staff”, you’ll be shown how to recognise the signs of emotional suffering in the people around you. Most veterinary practices will have measures in place to provide first aid in the event of a physical health emergency, and most of us are able to recognise the signs of such an emergency, because people tend to be writhing on the floor in agony, or have blood gushing out of them. With mental health emergencies, the signs are often much more subtle. The NHS considers suicidal ideation to be a medical emergency and advises anybody suffering from it to go straight to A&E. Despite this, many people slip through the cracks, and lives are lost because those around them did not see the signs.

It probably doesn’t need repeating that veterinary work ranks as among the most stressful of professions, and the rate of stress-related injury and death is high. It is important that we all play our part in being watchful and noticing when somebody we spend a lot of time with doesn’t seem to be themselves anymore. It could just be standard stress which can be solved with a kind word and a cup of coffee, but it could be that this person is slipping away right in front of everybody, and no one sees anything until it’s too late.

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In this four-part course, Mike Scanlan covers all the ground you’ll need to know in order to identify people who are at risk, and help connect them with the help they need. At the least, you may help keep people happier at work, and it may even be the case that you save lives. Get your friends and colleagues involved to strengthen the safety net, and help us make it much harder for people to slip through the cracks.

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