BVA reports falling stress levels among students

Stronger support from schools are helping veterinary students’ mental health

Veterinary students are under a lot of pressure—classes, tests, little free time and lots of tuition debt—but in the United Kingdom at least, stress levels are declining.

A British Veterinary Association survey found that stronger support from veterinary colleges is improving students’ mental health.

“We now have various counseling services and peer-support systems across universities to help students cope better,” said Hannah Mason, president of the Association of Veterinary Students, which partners with BVA in an annual survey of U.K. veterinary students.

The 2016 survey revealed a 23 percent drop over four years in the number of veterinary students reporting stress. A 2012 survey found that 82 percent of students admitted suffering from stress while in school. This year, the number of stressed-out vet students fell to 63 percent.

The two surveys showed that students reporting struggles with depression fell from 33 percent to 27 percent.

The biggest stressor, according to the survey respondents, was educational demands. Other causes were little free time, relationship or family issues, financial concerns, and having to work to pay the bills.

A key reason for the decline appears to be colleges offering more support, with 72 percent of 2016 survey takers saying as much.

BVA and other organizations pushed this year for better support of young veterinarians and students. Schools are offering everything from counseling and peer mentoring to a helpline and financial support.

“We … need to recognize and work on solutions for what can be a toxic mixture of a highly demanding course, little leisure time and huge financial pressure,” said BVA President Gudrun Ravetz, BVSc.

“It is the responsibility of everyone in the profession to nurture a robust, skilled, compassionate and happy new generation of vets,” she added.

Originally published in the December 2016 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today! 

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