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WSAVA survey reveals well-being trouble spots

An “an urgent action plan” is called for to help veterinary professionals deal with mental health issues.

WSAVA survey reveals well-being trouble spots
Dr. Nienke Endenburg speaks during the release of WSAVA survey results at the World Congress in Toronto.

Women, younger veterinary professionals and veterinary nurses make up the groups most seriously affected by stress and diminished well-being, according to preliminary results from a survey conducted by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association.

The findings were presented at the WSAVA World Congress by Dutch psychologist Nienke Endenburg, Ph.D., who co-chairs the organization’s Professional Wellness Group.

“Our research — the first global study of veterinary wellness — confirms a probable correlation between a career in veterinary medicine and an elevated risk of mental health issues,” Dr. Endenburg said. “It’s likely that this is caused by a combination of factors, including working environment, personal characteristics and client pressures. We are very concerned at the impact this is having on thousands of veterinary professionals worldwide and believe it must be addressed without delay.”

The online responses of 4,000 veterinary professionals were analyzed using the Kessler Psychological Distress tool, which measures anxiety and depression, a satisfaction with life scale and a satisfaction with career scale, WSAVA reported.

“The results also indicate a reluctance to talk about mental health in Africa and Asia,” WSAVA stated. “While this may not be an easy topic to discuss in any culture, as the profession is developing very quickly in these continents, particularly in Asia, the WSAVA believes that barriers to the open discussion of mental health issues are of significant concern.”

The next step is deeper examination of the results.

“The study has provided us with some very important data, which we are now analyzing in more detail and preparing for scientific publication,” Dr. Endenburg. “We will then develop an urgent action plan.

“As part of the plan, we will share the helpful resources already created by some veterinary associations. We will also develop additional tools to ensure all veterinary health care team members can access help when they have — or ideally before they have — a mental health problem.

“We hope our efforts will be another important step towards bringing about positive change and enhancing the well-being of all veterinarians globally.”

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