Veterinarians are profoundly passionate about animal health and welfare and embark on their careers with this unwavering driver. These highly skilled professionals have a privileged position in the community as the first-line of response for managing the health and medical treatment of animals.
Being part of one of the most respected professions also comes with the pressures of a profession where veterinarians are not just the animal’s general practitioner, but also their surgeon, dermatologist, radiologist and dentist.
Like many other professions, veterinarians are faced with the pressures of their work together with the existing perceived barriers of being unable to openly discuss mental wellbeing, which affects the mental wellbeing felt by some of our colleagues in the profession.
63% of Australian veterinarians are experiencing psychological distress, which makes it more than likely that as many as 3 in 5 are in need of support.1
In the same way veterinarians care deeply towards their animal patients, they should also have a commitment to their own mental wellbeing and those of their colleagues, so they can continue to carry out our crucial work in the community to the highest standard.
At the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), we believe that transparent and regular conversations about mental wellbeing in our profession are important, in addition to ensuring that practical support is readily available for veterinarians who are finding it difficult to manage the pressures of the profession.
Our members are always our priority, and we ensure that help is always available for them, including providing a 24/7 AVA counselling service which provides free and confidential support from qualified counsellors for member veterinarians and their immediate families.
All veterinary professionals should continue to actively make a commitment to the mental wellbeing of themselves and colleagues, to not only assist themselves, but those around them to collectively support the mental wellbeing of our profession.
The AVA has developed a Mental Health First Aid program which regularly features in continuing professional development that meets the specific needs of the profession, delivering valuable mental health education to help veterinary professionals identify and respond to colleagues in need of support.
The professional collegiality shared by our members adds another degree of support available for veterinarians, and the extensive support network of like-minded colleagues sharing similar experiences can have a profoundly positive impact.
As we start the new year, the AVA encourages that all veterinary professionals speak openly with their colleagues about mental wellbeing, where possible reach out to the AVA Counselling Service and take part in our Mental Health First Aid program.
24/7 AVA Counselling Service: 1800 337 068
- Hatch PH, Winefield HR, Christie BA, Lievaart JJ. Workplace stress, mental health, and burnout of veterinarians in Australia. Aust Vet J 2011;89,460–468.