Study counters perception of veterinary mental health

For a few years now, the veterinary community has been rocked by reports of widespread depression and even the suicide of some of its most high-profile members.  But a study released at the NAVC’s VMX conference suggests veterinarians are no worse (and no better) than the broader community, when it comes to mental health.

The NAVC’s new publication, “Today’s Veterinary Business,” reports on the Merck Animal Health Veterinary Wellbeing Study:

A newly released study shows that the overall mental health of U.S. veterinarians is about the same as that of the general population, challenging long-held concerns that the industry is awash in depression and suicide.

[…] “Our data do not support that there is a … widespread mental health crisis in the profession,” said Elizabeth Strand, Ph.D., LCSW, director of veterinary social work at the University of Tennessee.

veterinary mental health“This survey is unique in that, for the first time, a nationally representative sample of veterinarians in the U.S. were asked about their well-being, which is a broader measure of happiness and life satisfaction than mental health alone,”  said Linda Lord, DVM, Ph.D., the academic and allied industry liaison lead with Merck Animal Health, which funded the study.

“Based on the survey results, we are particularly concerned about younger veterinarians as they are the future of our profession. We must work together to promote a healthy lifestyle, including work-life balance, access to wellness resources and debt reduction.”

The additional detail in the study is well worth checking out. Read the rest of the story.

The caution about our younger colleagues is well-founded, with the debt burdens so many of them carry, which will continue to be a cause for concern.  Our own VPI-Veterinary Economics Financial Health Study from 2014 showed that it’s not just younger veterinarians concerned about their financial future.

And of course, the study’s findings that mental health in the profession is no worse than in the general population does not matter if you are suffering. Reach out, and let’s be there for each other.