Wellness summit covers mental health in veterinary profession

The Veterinary Health and Wellness Summit was organized by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

Mental health stressors associated with the veterinary profession—and what can be done about them—were the topic of the fourth annual Veterinary Health and Wellness Summit.

The three-day event drew 270 people in November to the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Keynote speaker Michele Gaspar, DVM, Dipl. ABVP (feline), a practicing psychotherapist, rattled off the mental health ailments plaguing veterinarians due to the nature of the job. She suggested that veterinary schools develop “antidotes to perfectionism.”

The conference was organized by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, whose CEO, Andrew Maccabe, DVM, MPH, JD, said the wellness issue needs to be dealt with openly.

“We need to turn to our professional colleagues in mental health to solve this issue,” Dr. Maccabe said.

He noted the importance of de-stigmatizing mental health problems, encouraging resilience and urging sufferers of depression or anxiety to seek readily available professional help.

Experts generally acknowledge that the rigors of veterinary school can lead to mental health issues that follow a person into the profession.

Nearly one-third of the attendees were students. Thirty-six were from Colorado State, and the 44 others represented 22 schools.

An online toolkit featuring presentations from the conference and covering everything from “Yoga for Stress Relief” to “Coping With On-Call and Shift Work” is available at their website.


Originally published in the January 2017  issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today! 

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