Today’s Veterinary Business Staff
Each of Banfield Pet Hospital’s more than 1,000 clinics will close for two hours of suicide-prevention training as part a new company program that aims to improve the well-being and mental health of veterinary professionals throughout the industry.
The initiative, called “Assess, Support, Know,” or ASK, has the support of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Suicide in the veterinary profession is of particular concern to industry leaders and mental health professionals. According to Banfield, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 6 veterinarians has considered suicide and 1 in 10 suffer from severe psychological distress.
“As a practice, we are proactively prioritizing mental health and well-being resources such as ASK because we take seriously our responsibility to create meaningful change and make a positive impact on society, today and tomorrow,” said Banfield’s president, Brian Garish.
The company set a Jan. 6, 2020, deadline to:
- Bring employees together at each Banfield hospital for a two-hour interactive session on suicide prevention. The hospitals will be closed during the training.
- Offer the training for free to any veterinary professional.
- Assist veterinary students by providing the training to U.S. veterinary colleges. The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine has agreed to participate.
Banfield reported that it will spend more than $3 million on mental health resources by the end of 2020. Already in existence are the Veterinary Student Debt Relief Program and the Associate Assistance Program.
Banfield’s announcement drew praise from the AVMA and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“We are encouraged by Banfield’s new ASK program and believe it has the potential to help enable important conversations and help-seeking behavior, and save lives,” said Maggie Mortali, MPH, the foundation’s senior program director.
AVMA President John Howe, DVM, said Banfield showed a “commitment to their employees as well as the entire profession.”
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
Do you or someone you know need help? For immediate assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.