Don’t be afraid to reach out to colleagues, say BVA and Vetlife

09 May 2018

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is encouraging members of the profession to reach out to colleagues as it reveals 77% of vets have experienced concern for a colleague or fellow student’s mental health and wellbeing.

BVA and veterinary wellbeing charity Vetlife are encouraging all members of the veterinary family to mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 by reaching out to colleagues and by opening up about the issues and experiences that may be causing them stress.

John Fishwick, President, British Veterinary Association, said:

“We know that veterinary careers can be deeply rewarding but we also understand that the work can be stressful and challenging at times. In this sort of high-pressure environment it’s especially important that everyone feels able to reach out about whatever is worrying them or causing them stress.

“Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week so we’re taking the opportunity to remind everyone to reach out to colleagues who may be struggling, to be open about their own difficult experiences and to share the tools that help them cope. This isn’t just about one week of the year. We hope by opening these conversations we can all play a role in ensuring veterinary work and study environments are supportive and nurturing places.”

The figures, released this week from BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, showed that nearly half of the vets surveyed (44%) were unsure whether they would be able to recognise the signs of mental ill-health in a colleague.

As well as encouraging conversations about mental health and wellbeing in the profession BVA is urging members to post on Twitter and Facebook about their own tips for dealing with stress using the hashtags #wellbeing and #vetlife. BVA will be signposting to useful resources throughout the week and posting a series of blogs relating to veterinary wellbeing.

Welcoming the encouragement by BVA, Vetlife Helpline Manager, Rosie Allister, said:

“We know that a number of factors can make it feel difficult for veterinary professionals to ask for help, but when people do, it may be peers who they first speak to, and those supportive workplace relationships can be vital.”

Rosie highlighted the support offered through Vetlife Helpline by trained volunteers, who understand the challenges of veterinary work. She added:

“Whether you are going through a difficult time yourself, or supporting a colleague who is, Vetlife Helpline is available 24 hours a day to listen. Vetlife’s Health Support service, which people can access via the Helpline also offers professional advice and care for veterinary professionals concerned about their mental health.”

Vetlife is an independent charity that provides free and confidential support to anyone in the UK veterinary community who has emotional, health or financial problems. For 24-hour confidential emotional support call the Vetlife Helpline on 0303 040 2551 or visit www.vetlife.org.uk to send an anonymous email.

BVA and Vetlife are supporters of the Mind Matters Initiative (MMI), which aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of those in the veterinary team, including students, veterinary nurses, veterinary surgeons and practice managers.

BVA Media Office