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23 June 2022

Veterinary

Mental Health Matters in The Pet Health Industry

It's no secret that the medical profession deals with burnout and mental health challanges. It's inevitable in a position with life-or-death consequences and a pace that often doesn't lend itself to positive decompression. However, studies have shown that the issue is even more prevalent in the veterinary industry.

Frankly, it's not surprising.

Vets take on many different roles beyond being medical professionals. They manage business expectations and act as an emotional support counsellor for families dealing with worry and grief.

In addition, they balance their personal lives.

They are overloaded—physically and mentally. A U.S. survery in 2015 showed vets are more likely to experience psychiatric disorders, depression, and suicidal thoughts. The rate is close to 2x that of the general population.

Beyond many of the broader issues that may require fundamental industry-wide reform, what are some things vets can do within their teams to curb and support mental health issues?

When it comes to Mental Health, there is no "I" in team

Many strategies for dealing with the underlying symptoms of burnout also mirror those prescribed for general mental health. First and foremost, the focus is on personal well- being: ensuring adequate sleep, practicing balanced nutrition and regular activity.

This can sound daunting, but it doesn't have to be a big deal. It can be an extra hour of sleep, taking a daily walk, packing a healthy lunch and making time for some simple breathing techniques (like the ones offered via Apple watch).

While self-directed strategies are beneficial, it's also critical to encourage teams to come together. They should cry together, revel in successes, and leverage everyday experiences. Whether in person or taking part in online communities, there is comfort in sharing the mental load. If anything, it is just a simple reminder that nobody is in this alone.

Know the signs and ask for help

While working on yourself and team building can be helpful, they are far from catch-all solutions. Some people need more substantial support. Vets must, above all, manage a business and employees who depend on the practice for livelihood. Allowing symptoms to remain unchecked can negatively impact top-down team interaction and, more importantly, the bottom line.

The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, for example, offers members a variety of helpful resources. There is inherent value in seeing a professional who can tailor how stress and trauma are handled.

Outsourcing processes to mitigate stress

Another strategy may be outsourcing some of the more prominent pain points within a practice. Finances, for one, are enormous, as many clients' financial situations are directly at odds with their pets' survival. While pet insurance is a viable option, many owners forgo signing up until it's too late. Heartbreakingly, this can leave vets walking away, knowing a pet will suffer a preventable fate.

LendCare, as an example, offers a simple solution, allowing pet owners to finance procedures and after-care with manageable monthly payments. This could enable teams to provide better care and mitigates preventable trauma for themselves and the families they help daily.

No matter what strategy is chosen, even if it isn’t one of those mentioned above, it’s essential to understand and react accordingly to the signs of burnout before they negatively affect business and, more importantly, the health of the entire practice.

Are you interested in partnering with LendCare? Reach out to us today.

SAVE THE DATE: LendCare will be at the OVMA Conference and Trade Show, July 14- 16, 2022. Visit us at booth #703.