It’s not the obvious – Police, Paramedics, Firefighters – Construction comes second. It’s Vets!
Today, in a newspaper article, a Veterinary Assistant took her own life. This was attributed to ‘burnout’ and using coping strategies that led to her death – alcohol and prescription drugs. A tragic end.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why stress or burnout occurs in this group of people:
- Vets often work alone, even if they are in a shared Practice, they go out literally into the field and may not come back to the Practice when they’ve finished – it’s lonely.
- Vets have to put animals to sleep for a wide variety of reasons – think about your pet cat/dog or just as distressing, race horses, animals injured in accidents. This in itself is upsetting but they also have to deal with the emotions of the owners of the animals.
Who do they have to talk to about this? Is there psychological training for Vets before they start in practice?
What about the support staff? Even if they don’t carry out the actions of the Vet, they often work at a veterinary practice because they love animals. How are they affected when an animal has to be put down and what skills do they have in dealing with trauma in families dealing with loss?
This is why I think that Vets and their teams should have at least two Mental Health First Aiders in the Practice and where Vets work alone, they should have Mental Health Awareness training (half
day) to learn how to self-identify stress and burnout before it becomes life threatening.
I would be happy to hear from Vets and anyone who is interested in feeding back on my thoughts.