The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) is marking this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week with the launch of a competition about how we can remain connected with ourselves and others through the power of creativity.
Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 9 to Sunday 15 May 2022) was founded by the Mental Health Foundation 21 years ago and is an annual event to help focus the conversation around mental health on a particular issue that is affecting the nation’s mental health and how it can be alleviated.
This year’s theme is loneliness, an issue that has been recently exacerbated by the pandemic, and will look at the relationship between loneliness and mental ill-health and how making connections with other people and within communities is key to tackling the problem.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, MMI will be focusing on the importance of community, togetherness, and meaningful connections for tackling loneliness within the veterinary community.
After the success of MMI’s Mental Health Awareness Week’s nature photo competition last year, it will be launching another creative contest this year to raise awareness of the impacts of loneliness and the ways in which the veterinary community can come together to tackle it.
The competition, running until Friday 3 June, is open to all members of the veterinary team and will be centred around the theme of “Creative Connections”. Photographs, artwork, creative writing, or any other media that demonstrates how creativity and ingenuity can bring people together are all welcome. Those who wish to enter the competition should email their entry to the MMI team, along with a short explanation about the submission, what connection means to them and why it is important for their mental health and well-being.
Lisa Quigley, MMI manager, said: “It is important to remember that loneliness is not necessarily about physical isolation, it is about feeling disconnected emotionally and socially from the world around us even if we are in a crowded room or working a busy shift at a veterinary practice. COVID-19 has significantly added to what’s called by some a ‘loneliness epidemic’, and other factors such as stress, tiredness and lack of confidence or low self-esteem, as well as living with mental health conditions or poor emotional wellbeing, can all add to feelings of loneliness.
“Finding creative ways of forging new connections outside of our usual routines – whether it’s taking up a new or existing hobby or finding a way of talking to people who may be feeling similar – is vital to tackling loneliness. I really look forward to seeing this year’s submissions from the professions and hope that the participation of us and others in this year’s events help people realise they are not alone.”
In addition to the competition, on Thursday 12 May, MMI will be bringing its popular spring 2022 series of Campfire Chats to a close with a Mental Health Awareness Week special, “Tackling Loneliness in a Hyperconnected World“.
MMI will also be releasing a short collection of blogs, featuring a range of guest writers from across the veterinary professions, who will be sharing their thoughts on loneliness, the importance of coming together, and their favourite ways of keeping connected.