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Riders urged to support each other on World Mental Health Day

Riders are urged to show their support for each other, now more than ever, to mark World Mental Health Day.

Online resource Riders Minds is asking the equestrian community to come together today (10 October) to support mental health, raise awareness and “make a difference”.

“At a time when social distancing is the norm, it is more important than ever to show your support for each other,” said a spokesman for the project, which is supported by British Equestrian.

“This might be going for a walk or a ride, reaching out to someone, or picking up the phone; whatever it is, take the opportunity to do something positive on World Mental Health Day.”

Riders Minds would like equestrians to post images on social media with the green heart emoji, and the hashtags #SupportEachOther #RidersMinds #PeaceofMind.

“In addition, Riders Minds will be speaking to riders from grassroots through to professionals to share what three things they do, or can’t live without, to give them ‘peace of mind’ when riding,” the spokesman said.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) have also marked the date; joining forces to raise awareness of the mental health and wellbeing challenges facing equine vets, and to offer advice and support.

The organisations have released a short animated film featuring a day in the life of a young equine vet, and some measures to support mental health.

MMI chairman Susan Dawson said: “Well-established research has shown that veterinary professionals are at a higher risk of serious psychological distress and suicide. There is also evidence, however, that implementing mechanisms to help vets cope with work-related stressors, as well as reducing barriers to seeking mental health support, may well reduce these risks.

“We’re therefore very pleased to be launching this animation for World Mental Health Day 2020. Over the past few years, the increased focus on mental health and wellbeing amongst veterinary professionals has led to a greater understanding that if we, as vets, consistently implement small changes to our day, it can have a significant positive impact on our lives.

“Just simple things like listening to a podcast when driving to calls, calling a friend or colleague for a chat, and making time to stop for lunch, can increase our resilience and help us put things in perspective.”

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BEVA president Lucy Grieve added that the job is “fantastic” for most equine vets, most of the time.

“But some of us feel we should always be perfect, which can have a negative impact, particularly when things don’t go to plan,” she said.

“Recognising that perfection is not always achievable is crucial in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, whilst still striving for a fulfilling career. We know that, increasingly, equine vets receive some support from colleagues and mentors in practice, but this animation provides a few suggestions of small changes that everyone can make to help gain perspective.

“It’s not rocket science, or a magic wand, but there is strong evidence that small consistent changes can really help.”

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