The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative has published a blog by a veterinary nurse in which she shares her experience of mental illness and how she managed it whilst progressing her career.

The blog is part of a mental health anti-stigma campaign called '&me', being run jointly by the RCVS and the Doctor's Support Network.

&me encourages people within healthcare professions to come forward with their personal mental health stories, to demonstrate that mental health issues do not preclude people from achieving leading roles in healthcare. 

Mind Matters Manager, Lisa Quigley said: "By reducing stigma and showing that it is possible to continue to flourish in your career no matter where you are on the mental health continuum, our &Me role models help those who are not yet seeking help or who are struggling with their diagnosis to speak to appropriate people.

"We often talk about veterinary surgeons’ mental health and the wider prevalence of mental health issues within the veterinary professions. We are incredibly pleased to have our first VN &me ambassador and this blog will hopefully open the way for other veterinary nurses at all stages of their careers to talk more openly about their mental health to trusted people and healthcare professionals. We thank its author, Meg Conroy, for her bravery in stepping forward to talk about her own experiences."

Meg said: "In January 2018 I was promoted to Head Nurse for the Hub of practices and had volunteered for British Small Animal Veterinary Association Southern region and Congress committee. I felt on top of the world. I was married in July 2018, the best day of my life. But then suddenly, my black dog was upon me. Everything from the last eighteen months crashed down on me like a tsunami. Everything I had pushed to the back of my mind came flooding back. This is when I truly started to change how I viewed my mental health.

"Before it was a dark, damning secret that I was ashamed of. Now I had supportive colleagues who genuinely just wanted me to get better. After five weeks off work, medication and starting counselling, I was ready to give work another go. I remember taking my first blood sample, shaking and tears filling my eyes. I didn’t think I would ever be whole again. Eight months on from my last episode, I feel stronger than ever, I fought every day until one day it became easier.

"We talk often about what our mental health takes away from us, but what has my mental health given me? It’s given me a greater understanding and empathy towards others. My mental health is a part of me, but it does not define me. Certainly not as a nurse."

Meg’s full blog can be found on the Mind Matters website

The RCVS is still looking for more ambassadors for the Mind Matters &Me campaign. If you're interested in joining the campaign, you should first contact Dr Louise Freeman, Vice-Chair of the Doctors’ Support Network, on vicechair@dsn.org.uk, for a discussion about the potential personal impact. 


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