Davies Veterinary Specialists has shown its commitment to the recruitment and retention of employees by signing up to the Charter for Employees who are Positive about Mental Health. We also proudly took part in the annual Time To Talk Day last week with a series of well-received events.
The Charter for Employees who are Positive about Mental Health is a voluntary agreement seeking to support employers in working within the spirit of its positive approach. The Charter is one element of the MINDFUL EMPLOYER initiative which is aimed at increasing awareness of mental health in the workplace and supporting businesses in recruiting and retaining staff. Time to Talk is a national event held in February each year, aimed at helping workplaces talk openly about mental health.
“Mental health issues are disproportionately high within the veterinary profession,” said Mark Goodfellow, Vet and Mental Health First Aider. “Passion and dedication to veterinary work can lead to the desire to work long hours. Commitment to high standards can cause a feeling of failure if perfection isn’t achieved every time or when patients don’t recover. Ultimately, working with very unwell patients, distressed clients and making end of life decisions can lead to compassion fatigue.”
Davies estimates that of the 1,500 days of sick leave taken by its 185 staff in the past year, up to 30% of these were related to mental health issues. We are committed to providing day-to-day support by improving the workplace, raising awareness and opening up communication pathways to make mental health care a priority.
Time To Talk Day gave Davies team members the opportunity to embrace mental health head on as part of a UK-wide initiative. The day included group Walk and Talk for employees and their dogs, time to talk over tea and cakes and encouragement to join a Veterinary Defence Society webinar on conversations about mental health.
Davies already has a number of permanent polices in place:
- The Davies Mental health First Aid team (pictured below) provides support to employees and clients on a day-to-day basis;
- In partnership with Letchworth Healthy Living Centre, employees have access to face-to-face counselling;
- All heads of service have attended mental health awareness training;
- All employees have access to Employee Assistance Programmes and private healthcare with discounted health checks.
The practice is also actively discouraging long working hours and encouraging a good work/life balance. More flexible working arrangements have been introduced and many team members are able to work part-time. A large staff room, with free food and drink helps with relaxation and on-site yoga and meditation sessions are being explored.
“As a business we are very aware of mental health challenges and have an open supportive and enabling attitude to employees and job applicants with mental health issues at all times,” said Suzanne Knight, HR Director. “We are proud to be continuing to work towards other key points on the charter to ensure that our recruitment process always embraces mental health in the fullest capacity.”