The FVMA’s current offerings for mental wellness assistance
Our members do so much to care for our pets, and it is our responsibility to care for our members. Mental wellness has become an increasingly important topic in veterinary medicine as significant studies have shown that the profession, while rewarding, can be straining.
Understanding the Issue
A 2014 Centers for Disease Control study found one in 10 veterinarians suffered severe psychological distress and more than one in six considered suicide. Concurrently, a 2014 American Veterinary Medical Association study found one in five veterinarians to either be a victim or work with someone who has been a victim of cyberbullying in the workplace. Easy access to public platforms for airing grievances, like social media and online review sites, make it difficult to separate the truth from an angry rant. These sites enable dissatisfied clients to continue to personally and professionally attack veterinary professionals long after doors are closed for the day.
Even more alarming, a 2017 Merck Animal Health study showed only 50% of veterinarians with mental illness were receiving treatment. Younger veterinarians, an increasing population in the profession, experienced higher distress levels (8.7% at ages 18-34 and 9.1% at ages 35-44) than older veterinarians (2.8% at ages 55-64 and 0.7% at ages 65 and older).
Merck performed an additional survey and revealed in 2020 that 92% of veterinarians surveyed were very concerned about high stress levels. Of those surveyed, 91% expressed concern regarding student debt and 89% expressed concern regarding suicide in the profession.
No matter the type or severity of stress, the FVMA sees it as our responsibility to help members navigate difficult times. We firmly believe nobody should have to walk through life alone.
The Professional Wellness and Well-being Committee
We started the Professional Wellness and Well-being Committee in 2017 to provide Florida veterinarians with resources and support for chemical dependency, psychiatric illness, eating disorders, anger management, professional burnout and compassion fatigue. The committee has provided education on these topics through resources such as the FVMA Advocate, monthly e-newsletters, our FVMA website, and lectures and workshops at conferences.
Dr. Philip Richmond, DVM, CAPP, CPPC, CCFP, serves as chair of the Professional Wellness and Well-being Committee and is scheduled to host a cost-free, live “QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training” webinar via our virtual CE platform, FVMA LINK, on October 12 at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Designed to teach questioning, persuasion and referral strategies, this course helps attendees learn how they can help save lives from suicide.
Membership Assistance Program
With assistance from our wellness committee, the FVMA has also recently implemented the Membership Assistance Program (MAP) through a partnership with McLaughlin Young Group as our newest member benefit. MAP provides our members with free, confidential, short-term counseling and personal consultation along with additional work-life resources. Only requiring a phone app, the FVMA strongly recommends all members register for MAP now, so they have resources readily available in a time of need.