New Resource Connects Veterinarians to State Wellness Programs

The American Veterinary Medical Association’s new website resource offers information on state-based mental health programs available to veterinarians.

A new resource from the American Veterinary Medical Association is helping professionals in the field get the emotional support they need.

Launched last month, AVMA’s State Wellness Programs for Veterinary Professionals details wellness programs available to veterinary professionals on a state-by-state basis. Working with state veterinary medical associations and state boards on its industrywide Veterinary Well-Being Steering Committee, AVMA’s state advocacy team conducted research to identify veterinary wellness state programs along with confidentiality provisions.

“One of our primary initiatives is how we can help improve their well-being and what resources we can bring on a national level,” said Dr. Marci Kirk, assistant director for recent graduate initiatives at AVMA.

AVMA has long recognized that veterinarians often struggle with their mental and emotional health. A 2014 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that one-in-six veterinarians contemplated suicide since graduation and that nearly one in 10 had experienced major psychological distress. “We face ethical choices whenever it comes to euthanizing a pet, which some other medical fields don’t face,” said Kirk, who is also a veterinarian.

Despite these challenges, Kirk said that a fear of losing their licenses discourages many veterinarians from seeking help for substance abuse and mental health problems. With this new resource, AVMA is looking to take steps to advocate for confidentiality. “While it seems intuitive that it would be confidential when you’re seeking help, it’s very nice to see that in print,” she said. “We want to make sure that anyone who wants help is free to get the help they need.”

This new resource is one of many that AVMA has introduced over the years. In the past, the group offered a consultation service to tackle cyberbullying in the profession and partnered with QPR to launch a suicide-intervention training module. Another recently launched resource is the “Wheel of Well-Being,” a handout that highlights activities to reduce stress and improve well-being. “We continue to look for ways that we can fulfill the need of our members and the entire profession as a whole,” said Kirk.

From its AVMA@Work blog to its wellness-focused LinkedIn group, Kirk said AVMA plans to use all of its communication channels to get this important resource in front of the people who need it most. And, to make it even more accessible, most of the information AVMA has on its Wellness and Peer Assistance website is available to nonmembers.


Thorne McFarlane

By Thorne McFarlane

Thorne is an assistant editor for Associations Now and a literature buff who loves a great story. Have something interesting to share? Send it his way. MORE

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