It’s no surprise that an increase in workload is contributing to burnout for vets & nurses
An increase in workload and workflow is contributing to burnout, ill health and loss of wellbeing for Australian veterinarians and their nursing staff, according to Dr Natasha Wilks, from High Performance Vets.
Dr Wilks has experienced first-hand the challenges COVID-19 has had on businesses and their teams over the past 14 months and says, “the need for mental health support has never been more important.”
“There are so many things which weigh on our minds; the long hours, financial struggles, and the difficult situations veterinarians are placed in such as delivering bad news to pet owners, emotional responses from clients unable to afford bills and even violence at the hands of customers,” continues Dr Wilks, who is also a veterinary career coach helping veterinary staff cope with the challenges of the profession and improve their wellbeing.
“While hugely rewarding, the veterinary profession also entails numerous challenges to mental health that necessitate the need for proactive management. Currently, the increase in workload is exceeding capacity all day, every day. Vets are exhausted and overwhelmed. It is like running an ultra-marathon. There is currently a huge demand for vets and nursing staff, and with everyone in the practice being so busy, there can be breakdowns in team dynamics,” says Dr Wilks.
Partnership to support mental health between Zoetis and Beyond Blue
Dr Wilks is supporting the partnership between leading Animal Health company Zoetis and Beyond Blue, which is in its sixth year, with an on-demand webinar, Wellbeing for Vet Practices, with practical strategies for maintaining mental wellbeing in practice for vets and clinic staff.
Zoetis, who works closely with vet practices around Australia, supports the mental health challenges faced by the veterinarian industry through its crucial mental health partnership with Beyond Blue. Over the past five years, Zoetis has helped raise $500,000 by donating $5 from products sold during the campaign period. In 2021, Zoetis aims to once again reach its $100,000 fundraising target by the end of the year.
“Zoetis is proud to once again be supporting Beyond Blue and the important work they do,” says Lance Williams, Zoetis Senior Vice President and Cluster Lead, Australia and New Zealand. “We knew that supporting vet mental health was critical when we first embarked on this support campaign, but we didn’t know then just how important the partnership would be. Together we have made strong progress in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of veterinarians, practise staff and nurses, and we are passionate about helping again this year.”
“All funds raised by Zoetis go towards the Beyond Blue Support Service. To date, Zoetis’ donations across veterinary and rural farming initiatives have allowed over 8,000 people, including vets, to get the help they need through the Beyond Blue Support Service and we are hoping to help more people this year,” he adds.
Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said the Beyond Blue Support Service continued to experience increased demand since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are very grateful to have the ongoing support of Zoetis and look forward to working together so our Australian vets can access support. They help so many of us and our animals, now let’s help them,” said Ms Harman.
Practical tips to help manage your mental health
Dr Wilks shares some practical tips on managing your mental health:
1. Start with you
Everyone is different, so it’s important to understand what is challenging you and why. Where possible, try to identify issues or instances that you find stressful and question what core values of yours they are at odds with.
2. Understand what works for you
There are definitely some basics that everyone should work on to help with their mental health and these are the key five:
- Physical activity,
- Healthy nutrition,
- Taking breaks and
3. Change your perspective
As vets, we go through academia seeing mistakes as failures that affect our grades. In the real world, we need to live with the unexpected, so we have to be realistic and kind to ourselves to grow from adversity.
4. Find empowerment
Clinical Leaders and Practice Managers should provide a clear process for dealing with customers and guidance on when to escalate problems. Letting team members know that they have your support and what they can say in tough situations will give them the confidence to engage and disengage as needed. Part of dealing with difficult conversations is also understanding that customers are going through some of the same challenges we are.
5. Speak out and get help
Reach out to organisations that specialise in supporting mental health. Beyond Blue has developed a free six-week program, NewAccess for Small Business, that offers support from trained mental health coaches who have a background in small business. For more information, visit www.beyondblue.org.au/newaccess-SBO
Support from Beyond Blue
In addition to the NewAccess program, the Beyond Blue Support Service offers free and immediate counselling, advice and referrals via phone, webchat or email. Beyond Blue’s online resources can help people take steps towards recovery and feel less alone. Beyond Blue’s online forums tap into a peer network that gives people connection and support from others who have been through similar experiences. The forums are safe and welcoming, monitored by a specially trained team.
For more information about depression and anxiety, visit www.beyondblue.org.au. To talk to a mental health professional for free, contact the 24/7 Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 22 46 36.
Free web chat is also available from 3 pm until midnight at beyondblue.org.au/getsupport and you can join the forums for free and download the safety planning BeyondNow app from the website.
For more information on how you can help Zoetis to raise vital funds to encourage mental health through its partnership with Beyond Blue please visit zoetis.com.au
As the world’s leading animal health company, Zoetis is driven by a singular purpose: to nurture our world and humankind by advancing care for animals. After nearly 70 years of innovating ways to predict, prevent, detect, and treat animal illness, Zoetis continues to stand by those raising and caring for animals worldwide – from livestock farmers to veterinarians and pet owners. The company’s leading portfolio and pipeline of medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and technologies make a difference in over 100 countries. In 2020, Zoetis generated revenue of $6.7 billion with ~11,300 employees. For more, visit www.zoetis.com.
About Beyond Blue
Beyond Blue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to reduce the impact of anxiety, depression and suicide in Australia. Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone achieve their best possible mental health, regardless of age, background and wherever they live. Beyond Blue works to give everyone in Australia the confidence to speak openly about anxiety, depression and suicide – both to seek support when they need it and to check in with those close to them – and tackle prejudice and discrimination wherever they exist. Beyond Blue’s tools, resources and services create mentally healthy environments. Through dedicated programs, Beyond Blue supports schools, universities, workplaces and community organisations to protect and promote good mental health.