Our WEMski conference with a difference – here is everything you need to know about our unique ‘Mental Health in Medics’ event taking place in the Italian Alps in March 2020.
What is WEMski?
The WEMski Conference is a leading-edge event concentrating on mental health, resilience and leadership for medical professionals. It brings together inspirational minds in an environment where we use adventure and the outdoors as a medium for learning, starting conversations around human factors in clinical teams and helping to build life-long networks. It offers a unique opportunity to learn from world-inspiring minds championing the forefront in medical and non-medical protocol and innovation all in one place.
Why is WEMski needed?
In 2018, 6,507 people committed suicide, with doctors and dentists showing consistently amongst the occupations with the highest suicide rates. Also, rather worryingly is the fact that suicide is more common in medical school than any other school setting. With a stigma still attached in today’s society to seek help and tackle mental health considerations, we need to initiate conversation in a safe and open way to help people to observe mental health considerations in both themselves as well as others at an early stage and to mitigate risk before it reaches a point where suicide is thought to be the only answer.
What are the main reasons to attend?
Like traditional WEM courses, this event offers a brilliant balance of enjoying a stunning outdoor environment, while engaging with a forward-thinking super experienced faculty to increase your knowledge base and build upon your own personal and team’s development.
You might also find this blog interesting to read: 3 ‘must read’ reasons why you need to attend WEMski ‘Mental Health in Medics’
Who should attend and who would benefit from attending?
Any medical or health professional of any age that operate in an environment they find challenging and they identify others may find challenging would find this conference interesting and useful. Also, anyone with an interest in mental health or concerns about their own mental health or their team should be encouraged to attend. Previous attendees have included: Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Midwives, Dentists, 999 dispatchers, Search & Rescue personnel.
What will I learn?
The week is a mix of formal and informal learning, featuring lectures and workshops from WEM faculty and guest speakers who are experts in their field, who have worked in stressful situations or who have experienced mental health issues themselves. Learning from our expert team and through your own experiences you will be examining the clinical psychology of leadership and teamwork in stressful working environments, whether that be in the hospital or on an expedition.
You will learn how to identify the signs and symptoms of distress in yourself and others, how to initiate those difficult but worthwhile conversations, how to mitigate distress and put coping mechanisms in place. There will also be resilience and leadership development through investigation of one’s own personality and real-time scenarios in a cold weather environment to discuss the concept of group versus team.
Throughout the week, you’ll also have access to top tips from the field and have the opportunity to ‘up-skill’ through a series of workshops, learning clinical and practical skills which will serve you well in remote areas. Plus, we have every morning and two full days on the slopes to enjoy the setting and absorb the content in a safe and stunning backdrop.
I’ve not done one of your courses before, can I still join?
Absolutely, this conference is for all medics, clinicians and health care professionals wanting to learn and understand more about mental health awareness on both a personal level and also from a leadership level.
I’m relatively new to medicine is this for me? Do I need any experience?
Yes 100% this is definitely for you! This week will equip you with the knowledge to help yourself and others from a mental health perceptive as your career develops. It’s great to start thinking about your own personal mental wellness and also those of your colleagues and team members at the beginning of your career. By attending you’ll be better equipped with newly learnt tools and skills that will help you in the future when dealing with stressful situations/environments.
How could attending further my career?
Mental Health is a hot topic and engagement with this event reflects a forward-thinking mentality and an acknowledgement of current issues and their impact on medical professionals in the 21st Century. It’s a positive CPD to have within your portfolio, plus you will gain a weeks’ experience skiing, hiking and walking in a cold weather environment within a WEM course, the worth of which is well-recognised within the expedition medical world.
Who are the confirmed guest speakers/WEM faculty?
We have an eclectic mix of world-renowned experts joining us at WEMski this year, all bringing with them their own personal real-world experiences of extreme physical and psychological challenges as well as offering advice on human factors in extreme medicine, mental wellness and leadership, medicine in the extremes and much more. Guest speakers include:
- Professor Chris Imray: Senior surgeon and world leading cold weather expert
- Dr Kate Baecher: Clinical Psychologist
- Dr Natalie Taylor: Military Personnel and one of the ‘Ice Maidens’
- Eoin Walker: Senior HEMS Critical Care Paramedic and Trauma Lead for WEM
- Dr Sophie Redlin: works closely with medical professionals to deliver training on mental health awareness, suicide awareness and response and general well-being topics such as emotional resilience.
- Josie Gilday: Humanitarian Nurse who has done multiple deployments with MSF and Red Cross
What will each speaker be bringing/sharing info and experience wise?
The faculty as a whole reflect a group of people operating across military, pre-hospital urban, pre-hospital remote and humanitarian environments with extensive experience to draw upon allowing an empathetic approach towards the attendees. It is not the individuals that make this event strong but the combination of backgrounds and experience as a whole that ensures the content is relevant, engaging and worthwhile.
What’s the itinerary?
Every morning from 08.45 – 13.00 is dedicated to enjoying the resort, so we arrive at the afternoon sessions from 13.30 – 18.00 relaxed and looking forward to learning topics that will demand our full attention. You will have two out of the six days as full ski days to really make the most of the amazing conditions in Livigno. For the early birds amongst you, there will be complimentary yoga and cross country skiing sessions prior to the start of our morning skiing sessions. Plus, for the energetic there will be optional activities such as off-piste descents and off-piste snow-shoe walking during the afternoons of the full ski days. There are a few group evenings planned and before that some après-ski fun as well with something to suit everyone. If you are a beginner skier or snowboard no problem – lessons are available at an extra cost.
Do I need to be a skier to attend?
No! Don’t fret if you’ve never been skiing before or are just a beginner. It’s super easy to book lessons, and if you don’t fancy hitting the slopes then there are a host of other pretty amazing facilities to keep you busy!
Selected to host some Winter Olympic events in 2026 and previously voted best European Resort in the World Snow Awards, Livigno is a leading winter resort with over 125km of skiing in addition to an extensive freeride mountain, 45km of cross-country walking/skiing paths and several massive snow-parks. It is also home to Europe’s largest wellness facility.
The town stretches over 13km and is packed full of bars, pubs, cafes, extensive tax-free shopping and over 100 restaurants from simple pizzerias to Michelin star eateries, not to mention the highest brewery in Europe. Livigno is also tax-free making it one of the most reasonably priced Western resorts despite the very high standards.
If you want to make a positive contribution to you and your team’s mental health, allowing you to become the best medics you can be then this is the event for you! To find out more information about WEMski or to book your place on what we promise will be an incredibly inspiring week in the Italian Alps, please click here.
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