This week, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) announced THRIVE – a veterinary wellness initiative that aims to support veterinarians and veterinary staff to lead satisfying, prosperous and healthy careers. This new initiative follows the AVA’s 2021 whole-of-profession stakeholder research into veterinary mental health and wellness (PDF).
“There is no magic bullet to solving the multifactorial issues of poor mental health within our profession. We know that this will take time and effort, which is why we are making this core business for the association,” said Dr Warwick Vale, AVA President.
“We are investing in a fulltime staff resource to help develop and manage the various programs that will underpin THRIVE. This will be a holistic approach, with the main goal to prevent harm, promote the positives of the profession, and protect those in a crisis”. The AVA has recently developed a policy Safeguarding and improving the mental health of the veterinary team, it outlines the importance of taking action to moderate work demands linked to occupational stress, while implementing interventions and resources to improve well-being targeted at the level of individuals, groups, leadership and organisations.
“It is extremely important to us that we continue to formulate the overarching industry frameworks and guidelines that will protect the wellbeing of veterinary practitioners. However, we cannot do this alone, we need the support of the whole profession and Government to help us to effectively care for the people in our profession,” said Dr Vale.
The independent research that the AVA conducted demonstrated that veterinarians deal with personal mental health issues at a higher rate than the general population, with over half (66.6%) of veterinary respondents mentioning they have or are experiencing a mental health condition (compared to 61.8% nationally). More specifically, 41.6% of respondents to the survey indicated that they had experienced a mental health condition in the past 12 months.
In the coming months the association will be activating some of the recommendations from the research:
- Industry specific mental health framework and suicide prevention strategy
- Mental health and wellness roundtable
- Assessing peer-to-peer support training programs