A Recipe for Psychological Health and Safety at Veterinary Workplaces

January 10, 2022

It is a known fact that those who work in the veterinary industry, don’t “do enough self-care”. Coral Doherty, RVT and Certified Psychological Health and Safety Advisor, provides a recipe with the ingredients around psychological health and safety for workers in the veterinary workplaces.

This recipe makes a large portion of psychological health and safety per worker.

Coral Doherty, RVT
Certified Psychological
Health and Safety Advisor


(in no particular order as all workplaces are different):

  • 13 cups           Psychosocial factors for workplace well-being & continuous improvement
  • 1 cup               Organizational assessment for stress vs. satisfaction at work-at least yearly
  • 5 cups             Resilience training per worker- as a preventative measure to burnout and stress
  • 1 cup               Non-stigma per worker- may require new skills
  • 38 cups           Diversity per workplace- 38 opportunities for miscommunication due to diversity
  • 1 cup               Inclusion training per worker- everyone matters
  • 1 cup               Non-violence training; forms of bullying, exclusion, mobbing, microaggressions
  • 1 cup               Onboarding per new hire- psychological health and safety is the new normal
  • 2 cups             Psychologically Safe Managers per employee-new skills may enhance recipe
  • 1 cup               EAP per worker or as needed- sprinkle generously
  • 1 cup               Hazard assessment per worker- at least monthly or as needed
  • 1 cup               Check-in per worker (mental health and well being)- monthly
  • 3 cups             Self-care per worker: home, life, and work-every single time
Considerations for 3 cups of Self-Care

What does the term “self-care” mean to you?

1) When I hear the phrase “self-care” I think about the things you do after work hours, to make up for the crummy things that happened during the workday like for example; meeting customer service needs on a tight deadline, multi-tasking, emotional medical cases, difficult clients and coworkers, feeling like you’re being bullied, the bad weather and circumstances that occurred as you ran out the door to work in the morning…. You get the picture. Self-care might seem indulgent or as a treat to make up for how tough your workday was… like, going shopping and spending money that you don’t really have, going to the spa for a pedicure, drinking wine with friends, going out for a meal with friends or doing an activity that promotes health, like yoga or meditation.

If I am feeling anxious or depressed, another way I interpret self-care is a term that means I need to look after the intense feelings I am encountering that make me feel unwell, nervous, or really sad.

2) Then when I think of self-care; I ask for help, calling the EAP, talking to a friend or counsellor, or look for a new app to download that might take me through some form of reflection or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). In each of these situations, self-care is required due to circumstances that seem beyond my control as a result of going through my workday.

It is a known fact that those who work in healthcare, don’t “do enough self-care”. What does that mean? That I should go out even more to get away from my life stresses or I should indulge without guilt even more than I already do?

No, it doesn’t. I know what it means. I heard something this week that made me realize what self-care also means… self-esteem, selfishness, loving yourself enough to care about your well-being and taking a moment to really FEEL how situations, coworkers, clients, family, friends really affect your heart, mind, and soul. We are human, not robots. Robots going through a workday won’t have to speak up for themselves when they are being asked to do something that doesn’t make them feel good inside. If a robot could show how they feel, they could turn different colors when they are asked to work within tight deadlines, multitask, accept unwarranted criticism, belittled, disregarded, berated, stressed or misunderstood during their workday, how many colors would they change into?

Humans are not colour changing robots and when our emotional boundaries are crossed, how is anyone supposed to know?

3) This is where “self-care” comes in. This type of self-care involves feeling your feelings and reformulating the feelings inside, into respectful words that help others to understand how their requests, comments, or interactions affect your well-being. This might mean words accompanied by tears (emotions we can see). When you look after your emotional health, you use words to say how you are feeling, thinking, and contemplating the requests, comments, or interactions instead of pretending those interactions haven’t affected you.

This involves some chosen vulnerability. That is where self-care requires emotional support…professionals that can support you through these important steps. Think about it, if nothing changes, nothing changes…. We will keep feeling like we are supposed to be robots and just take it as it comes. We become injured professionals…..working with injured professionals, in an injured professional workplace. We can do better, you deserve better.

Mix well and add equal portions of vulnerability and unintentional learning opportunities (aka mistakes) we are not robots. 

One factor of psychological health and safety at work involves rewarded and valued vulnerability. Your workplace communication becomes clearer, more respectful and appropriate, patient care goes to a new level. Teamwork levels up, workdays begin to improve in small meaningful ways. Your resilience improves because you know people care about you at work. Resilience… that is for another time. Today, focus on what self-care means to you and those around you. It is the right amount of selfishness so that you can perform at your best.

Bake at room temperature for 52 weeks of work  

This recipe will lend itself to daily success. When this recipe is valued by leadership and portioned to each worker, the workplace will begin to feel healthier and happier. Employees will feel like their workplace is a safe place to do their best work. All of their skills and personal contributions make a difference to patient outcomes and organizational goals. Workers love what they do and they love where they work!

Contact our Business Development team today to find out how we can support you.