Mainstream media pick up on vet mental health

Finally, mainstream media organisations are picking up on the mental health crisis facing the veterinary profession, with newspaper articles, local radio interviews and features on suicide rates amongst vets and veterinary students.  Check out the following links to see for yourself:

BBC Radio 4 discussion on suicide

ITV article on suicide with interviews

Sunday Express article on suicide in vet students

Is this good or bad for the profession?  In this day and age of information overload it is inevitable.  But how will the public respond?  Maybe clients will become more understanding and temper their prejudices about what we earn and how privileged we are?  Maybe it will drive the profession towards a kinder culture and less stressful work practices?  However, there is a risk our professionalism could be called into question; people may begin to distrust our ability to make the right decisions for them and their pets if they think we’re ‘not all there’.  This is where the stigma kicks in, and sufferers are reluctant to admit they are having difficulty to avoid these kinds of consequences.  One article talks about potential screening of applicants to vet school prior to intake to de-select for at-risk categories, and this opens up a whole can of entirely inappropriate worms, legally and ethically.

What’s your view?  Have your say on our forums, or post below.

2 thoughts on “Mainstream media pick up on vet mental health”

  1. I have had recent experience working with new graduates. They are full of technical information but lacking in practical experience. I feel the numbers admitted to University these days, does not allow for personal mentoring or enough hands on experience from seeing Practice. I have 34 years experience myself. I would not wish to be a new graduate in the current environment. Too much technology and not enough listening and empathy with our clients.
    The other aspect I struggle with is managing family life. I have a daughter in her teens, who can be demanding. The hours I work are mostly antisocial. Also my partners expectation of financial contribution to the household are unreal. He has the misconception that all vets are well paid and that my bank account idsa Golden Goose.

  2. Hi Sue! There are a few mentoring schemes emerging – both within corporate structures and by individuals seeking to provide what is lacking in practice. It’s part of the Vet Futures initiative and I know a couple of the veterinary organisations are working on their own mentoring themes… hope for the future at least. The very way we teach and apply communication also needs to change, with much more of a two way conversation and agreed strategies with clients (not sure how we’ll have time to do that well in the traditional 10min consult structure!).

    I’d be interested to hear your comments about managing a teenager. Mine are 3 and 5! I too work some antisocial hours (especially weekends), and worry I’m missing too much of their childhood. We’ve set up a FB group Vet Mums to share and compare stories of juggling work and family.

    As for the finances I can empathise to a certain extent. We get by, but slog it out to tread water. If I worked more I’d max out my childcare and earn an extra £20/day after costs. Sucks!

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