The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) will be marking Neurodiversity Celebration Week (21 to 27 March) by launching a new ‘neurodiversity resource hub’ area on its website and adding new modules on the topic to its popular MMI Kite App.
Neurodiversity Celebration Week is a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences, and the neurodiversity resource hub (www.vetmindmatters.org/resources/) aims to help members of the veterinary professions better understand how, for over one million people in the UK, neurological differences mean they learn and think in a way that is different to what is considered ‘neurotypical’.
Among the resources contained in the hub is information about neurological conditions closely associated with neurodivergence such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyspraxia, and dyslexia, as well as information for employers about neurodiversity, including inclusive working tools and sources of government support.
A new ‘kite’ with six new modules is also being added to the MMI Kite App – a specialist microlearning platform for topics related to veterinary wellbeing – that deals specifically with issues related to neurodiversity. The six modules cover: what is neurodiversity; the importance of talking about neurodiversity; different types of neurodiversity; bespoke considerations for neurodivergent individuals; how neurodivergence can lead to innovation through thinking differently; and, exploring further how different brains work and how we can make our brains work best for us.
During the course of Neurodiversity Celebration Week, the MMI website will also be publishing a blog by Dr. Kirstie Pickles, Clinical Assistant Professor in Equine Medicine at the University of Nottingham, about her current MMI-funded research investigating the various workplace stressors that affect autistic veterinary professionals and what adjustments can be introduced to mitigate these stressors.
Furthermore, during the Wellbeing Zone at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress on Saturday 26 March between 3 pm and 4 pm, MMI has organized a discussion session on neurodiversity. The discussion will be led by Roxanne Hobbs, a consultant in workplace inclusion, particularly around neurodiversity, and will look at how to nurture and cultivate neurodiversity in the veterinary profession.
Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters Manager, said: “As a project focused on the mental health and wellbeing of veterinary professionals, the Mind Matters project has a commitment to recognizing and providing a space for all forms of diversity, and so we are very glad to be supporting Neurodiversity Celebration Week again this year. This commitment to diversity will form a key part of our forthcoming strategic plan, and this mission has also recently been strengthened by the findings of both our recent survey n our strategic proposals, and the survey with student VNs from last year which identified this as an area where people wanted more support.
“We know that different brains function differently and that this isn’t wrong or problematic, but represents the many different ways of understanding, thinking, and learning that we all encounter in work and in life. There is a huge strength to be found in the diversity of thinking, however, we know that neurodivergent individuals may sometimes face challenges, and so it is vital to ensure that all individuals working in the veterinary professions feel supported to be who they are in order to thrive in the workplace.
“We hope that our neurodiversity resource hub and our other initiatives during Neurodiversity Celebration Week will be a useful source of information for everyone and will aid people in understanding neurodivergence, how it can manifest, and how it can be supported in the workplace and educational settings.”
The hub, the MMI Kite App, and the blog from Kirstie Pickles can all be accessed via the MMI website: www.vetmindmatters.org