Mental health affects many, including veterinary professionals

Thursday, January 28, 2021 marks the 11th annual #BellLetsTalk Day campaign. This year’s theme is “When it comes to mental health, now more than ever, every action counts”. Bell will donate more towards mental health initiatives in Canada by contributing 5 cents for every applicable text, call, tweet, or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk, social media video view, and use of their Facebook frame or Snapchat filter.

#BellLetsTalk Day was launched in 2010 to spotlight awareness, acceptance, and action in mental health. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic make this initiative more important than ever. According to research conducted by CAMH throughout 2020, mental health and substance abuse problems in Canada rose as COVID-19 became more prevalent. For example, 24% of Canadians experienced moderate to severe anxiety (compared to 21% in 2019). Rates increased whenever lockdown restrictions became more stringent. An Ipsos poll conducted in December 2020 also reported that 40% of Canadians experienced mental health issues due to the pandemic.

In Our Hospitals

Even before COVID-19, our veterinary teams faced a roller coaster of emotions due to emergency cases, life-threatening diagnoses, euthanasias, and other daily occurrences that affect everyone in the practice — customer care representatives, veterinary assistants, technicians, practice managers, veterinarians, and more. Fast-changing government policies, new safety protocols, heightened client emotions, and the uncertainty of what the future holds continue to place unprecedented stress and burden on our hospital teams. 

To help our veterinary teams, we share stories of members who have and continue to face ongoing struggles. We share inspiring videos in the hopes of ending the stigma around mental health. And we encourage those needing help to reach out, to start a conversation with a trusted friend or colleague, or to seek professional advice and counselling using our Employee Assistance Program.

Resources for Immediate Help

Below are some Canadian helplines and websites that you can use or recommend to someone who you know is struggling. Keeping the dialogue open is key to getting proper care, and so is reaching out to the resource that is right for you.

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – At VetStrategy, we offer all our employees access to an Employee Assistance Program. This confidential employee support service is available to every team member 24/7. Anyone that calls can schedule phone, video, or in-person sessions with a counselling professional. Blogs and podcasts are also available.

“We believe in taking care of our team members and part of our commitment to them is ensuring they have access to tools and resources to support them both at work and in their personal lives. Whether it’s challenges with mental health support, financial advice, health concerns, or any of life’s big events, we’ve got their back.”

– Amanda McCue, Director, Human Resources

  • Crisis Services Canada – A nationwide network of crisis service centres with 24/7 lines for anyone that is thinking about or is affected by suicide.
  • Mental Health Commission of Canada – One of their many initiatives are Mental Health First Aid courses that train teams on how to provide proper support for those who may be struggling with a mental health crisis.
  • The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – With offices across Ontario, CAMH provides a wide variety of clinical care services for patients in the province as well as a directory of local crisis response teams. They also offer guidelines and links to resources for those living outside of Ontario.
Veterinary-Specific Resources
  • I-matter.ca – The OVMA developed a new website specifically for veterinarians to help improve their mental well-being through podcasts, info sheets, and helpful links.
  • Criticalcarevet.ca – Dr. Marie Holowaychuk, a critical care specialist focusing on wellness in veterinary medicine, offers many podcasts and blogs about the topic.
  • The CVMA’s “It’s Time To Talk About Mental Health In Veterinary Medicine” Week – Started in September 2019, the CVMA continues to offer follow-up webinars every two to three months on mental health. The next webinar is scheduled on #BellLetsTalk Day. Webinars are open to all CVMA and non-CVMA veterinarians, veterinary hospitals, and any team members working in a veterinary clinic.

We encourage anyone needing help to reach out, to start a conversation with a trusted friend or colleague, and/or to seek professional advice and counselling using our confidential Employee Assistance Program.

Because when it comes to mental health, now more than ever, every action counts.

 

#BellLetsTalk #mentalhealth #mentalillness #MentalHealthIsHealth