A comprehensive new study of US veterinarians documents the state of wellbeing and mental health in the profession. It also provides new data on burnout, substance use, job satisfaction and suicide attempts. The Merck Animal Health Veterinarian Wellbeing Study is a follow-on to a similar study conducted two years earlier. Conducted in collaboration with the American Veterinary Medical Association and Brakke Consulting, the new research is based on a representative sample of 2,871 veterinarians, both practitioners and non-practitioners. The objectives were to continue to track wellbeing and mental health of veterinarians, and to benchmark findings against physicians and the US general population of employed adults.
The study found that while wellbeing and mental health were generally consistent with the general population, there was a slight increase in the number of female veterinarians suffering from serious psychological distress compared to two years ago. Burnout was higher on average for veterinarians compared to physicians, although veterinarians work fewer hours. Veterinarians were 2.7 times more likely to attempt suicide than non-veterinarians. Similar to what was discovered in the prior research, half of veterinarians would not recommend the profession to a friend or family member.
The study documented several techniques that can help improve mental health and wellbeing. They include having a personal stress management plan, utilizing the services of a financial planner, balancing work with healthy activities especially spending time with friends and family, and limiting time on social media. The study authors pointed out that frequently discussing mental health and wellbeing in the work environment can help reduce the stigma of mental distress, and also encourage people to seek help when needed. Attendees will gain important new insights about stress and burnout, and how they can be avoided and/or dealt with more effectively in their own lives.