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It's ok not to be ok. The benefits of a Mood Board for your veterinary team

Posted in Our Community @ Aug 22nd 2019 - By Judy Gillespie with Amy Noonan & Todd Wade from AEC
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A brilliant idea to recognise and support the mental wellbeing of your veterinary team

A few week's ago I came across an awesome post on Instagram from Animal Emergency Centre (@aecvets):

"It's OK to not be OK 

Each shift the team picks a feeling they’re currently relating to and we know how we can best support each other (or stay well away  )

We’re obsessed with mental well-being. We know it’s not about being fine all the time, and we’ll go through a hundred emotions in just one shift. 

Which one are you today??


I thought this was an awesome idea! So I got in contact to find out more about the AEC Mood Board.

AEC Mood Board

AEC Mood Board

How it all started...

The Mood Board was introduced about 3 years ago for the week of the R U OK? Day (as the AEC is a shift work environemnt, they felt it necessary to hold a whole R U OK? Week to be able to reach all of their team members).

They searched Google Images for emojis as well as sketches of the famous 'Simon's Cat'. It's important to note that they carefully assessed each individual picture for how it affects and reflects the work enviornment in a positive way. They were careful not to use any that referenced alcohol or unhealthy habits that would not be helpful to the team. 

Three years later it's still very much in use and the team love it.

"There's something very powerful about acknowledging how you're REALLY feeling and being able to allocate a little picture to that. Often that’s all you need to get a little pick me up, but if we notice a team mate has placed one of the challenging emojis up, then we make sure to check in with them, or make them a cup of tea etc.

It's by no means a solution to workplace stress, but we do find it has helped us all."

- Amy Noonan (Relationships Manager QLD, AEC)

A few more questions...

Judy Gillespie (Vetanswers): First up, I love the fact that you carefully considered the message that each of your images portrays! I notice you have a couple of sets of images: emoji’s, dogs & cats. Do team members select the type of image they feel suits them best on the day or do you use each set as a team? The reason I ask is that in the images posted on Instagram, I noticed that only the cat images had been used for the day.

Todd Wade (AEC Business Manager): The team choose which ever image they feel suits them at the time, the cat only images was just coincidence and the Simon’s cat images are very popular with the team. 

JG: Is this a process that happens at the beginning of each shift before team members get into their work? Is it done as a team, or do individuals select their name and the appropriate image and add them to the board themselves?

TW: The team usually select their emoji at the start of their shift, however there’s no expectation or pressure to use the Mood Board. Generally each team member selects their name and appropriate image but sometimes a particular team member may organise this by asking each person what image they want next to their name.  The team also change their image throughout the shift, which is great when something positive happen and you can change your emoji to a happier one!

JG: How was the whole concept introduced to the team?

TW: The concept was introduced for an R U OK Day 3 years ago. Because our team work shifts and 24/7 we ran R U OK Week to ensure the benefits of R U OK Day reached the whole team. One of our veterinarians Dr Maree Maher was the brain child behind the idea, Maree thought the Mood Board would be useful for those who may be feeling down or just having a difficult shift to be able to express this to the team without having to talk about it, or even just to express how they are feeling throughout their shift.

The Mood Board was very popular with the team so at the conclusion of R U OK Week we kept the board in place.  

JG: Was everyone on board from the beginning or was there a bit of 'eye-rolling'?

TW: The team were onboard from the start. Because we all know the challenges facing the industry with regards to mental health the team are always receptive of any ideas that can help someone who may be going through a difficult time. The Mood Board can also be used in a really positive way, there’s a fun side to giving yourself a silly emoji, or changing your mood to something more positive following something positive happening during your shift.

JG: How have you managed to keep it going over 2 years? Any tips on how you've kept it fresh would be very helpful!

TW: Keeping the Mood Board going is mostly down to the team, we’ve updated the emojis and images a few times to keep things fresh, but it’s something the team really enjoy so they are the ones who have really kept the momentum going.

So what do you think?

Would your veterinary clinic, hospital or business benefit from a Mood Board?

Let me know your thoughts, questions or comments in the Comments section below. Also let me know if you think this would be a useful resource for Vetanswers to supply for our Members. We could source and print up the emoji's, cats, dogs, etc. (although not Simon's cat for copyright reasons!) and you could supply the white board, wall space, etc.

A big thank you to the team at AEC, especially Amy Noonan and Todd Wade for sharing this brilliant idea. :)

About Todd

My position is the Business Manager for AEC Mt Waverley and Frankston. I’ve been with AEC for nearly 5 years and working as a veterinary business manager for close to eight years, I previously worked in the UK managing a group of general practices in London. 

In my role I am responsible for the non-clinical management of AEC Mt Waverley and Frankston, such as operations, Human Resources and strategic management, however I work very closely with our Veterinary Director to ensure our team are supported so they can practice the highest standards of clinical care whilst delivering an excellent client experience.  

I have 3 cats, Leroy, Sharon & Barry, and a Chihuahua called Rosie, who are all foster fails.  


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