CAW Blog

The College of Animal Welfare

mental health awareness
mental health awareness

Mental Health in the Veterinary Profession


Working in the veterinary industry is extremely rewarding but the levels of responsibility and pressure can also make it very challenging. It is a well-known fact that levels of stress in the veterinary profession are often high so take some time to check up on your colleagues.

What makes the veterinary profession so stressful?

Working in the veterinary profession is very demanding; long hours, lone working and high levels of responsibility.  All of which can contribute to mental health challenges.

Having to regularly perform or witness euthanasia can be difficult for all those involved. Some studies even suggest that having to repeatedly euthanise animals can lead to a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It has also been suggested that the nature of the profession can attract specific personality types, some of which tend to be more vulnerable to developing mental health problems. Vets/veterinary nurses tend to be ‘perfectionists, carers and doers’. These personality traits can often have negative effects on mental health when having to deal with stressful and emotive situations day in, day out and also means that they’re less likely to admit when they’re struggling.

What help is available?

According to the British Veterinary Association (BVA)’s “Mental health and wellbeing in the veterinary profession”, UK vets are four times more likely to die of suicide than the general population. 75.5% of vet students also said that they wouldn’t tell anyone if they were suffering from a mental health problem, compared to just 41% of the general population.

In light of these shocking figures, which were released in 2014, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) launched the Mind Matters Initiative, which offers mental health awareness training in order to erase the stigma that comes with mental health problems. The five different areas within the programme are:

  • Learning and understanding best practice
  • Changing the culture
  • Personal support
  • Supporting the supporters
  • Making changes

Vetlife have a helpline for “everyone in the veterinary community” that you can call or email 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The helpline allows people in all areas of the veterinary community to speak about anything that might be on their mind, whether its veterinary related or otherwise.

If you’re in need of support, call the Vetlife helpline on 0303 040 2551, or reach out to one of your colleagues because they could be going through the same thing you are.