The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies Bicentenary

Campus expands team of mental health first aiders

Over 60 trained volunteers available to support mental wellbeing of staff and students.

group of people reaching out to hold hands

Dozens of staff and students from across the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies campus have received training in mental health first aid to help support their peers. 

This team of volunteers at Easter Bush campus serves as a point of contact for staff and students who may be experiencing mental distress.  

Established and managed by the Easter Bush Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee, this free service is one of several campus initiatives to support the mental wellbeing of our staff and students. 

The recent training of additional volunteers from the campus community has enabled the existing team of mental health first aiders (MHFAs) on campus to reach 64 members.  

Specialist Training  

All MHFAs attend a two-day training course on mental health first aid provided by Public Health Scotland and funded by the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (R(D)SVS).  

The training is designed to teach individuals how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental distress and mental ill health, and how to provide help on a first aid basis. On completion of the training, they are awarded a Public Health Scotland qualification in mental health first aid.  

In the same way as learning physical first aid at work, the training teaches the MHFA volunteers what they can do to help support those in a time of need until professional help can be arranged. 

Confidential and Impartial 

The Easter Bush team of MHFAs can be contacted in confidence. They provide a listening ear, reassurance and information, support self-help, and if necessary, signpost to relevant professional services.  

A MHFA is not a trained medical professional and cannot diagnose or treat people with mental ill health conditions, but they can provide a safe space and support for those who may be struggling with their mental health.  

Staff and students are able to contact a MHFA by email, telephone or on a face-to-face basis. Contact details of the MHFAs from across the campus can be found on the Mental Health Portal of the School’s website. 

 The two-day course delivered by Gwen Robertson from Public Health Scotland was extremely useful. The training enabled us to gain experience in engaging in difficult conversations with people around mental health, helped us to overcome the stigma surrounding its discussion, and gave us the confidence to sign-post people in a first aid context. 

 Dr Omar Alfituri   Member of Easter Bush Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee

 Having a team of visible, trained people on campus who can help support someone in distress and provide first aid is a hugely positive step towards overcoming some of the barriers associated with mental illness. This is an initiative I feel thankful that the School has embraced.

Ailidh MackayStudent Recruitment Manager and Mental Health First Aider 

Campus wellbeing activities 

The R(D)SVS is committed to ensuring the highest degree of health, safety and welfare for all its staff and students. In addition to the raft of wellbeing resources offered by the University of Edinburgh, the Easter Bush campus offers a number of activities including yoga, pilates, beekeeping at the School’s apiary, gardening at the allotments, a gym and much more.  

Related links 

Easter Bush Campus mental health resources  (secured)

Student support at the Dick Vet  

Student health and wellbeing at the University of Edinburgh 


About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies 

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than 800 staff and almost 1400 students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.

The School comprises:

The Roslin Institute

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

The Roslin Innovation Centre

The Hospital for Small Animals

Equine Veterinary Services

Farm Animal Services

Easter Bush Pathology

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.