Studies show Irish and UK vets suffering from extreme stress

Studies show Irish and UK vets suffering from extreme stress

More than 40% of Irish veterinary professionals are suffering from high levels of stress, the Veterinary Council of Ireland has found.

Research conducted in collaboration with the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention and the National Suicide Research Foundation in April 2021 touched on topics such as depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, deliberate self-harm, and suicide.

The anonymised research looked at 747 registered veterinary practitioners and veterinary nurses in both employee and managerial roles, a figure which represents 18% of all registered vets and vet nurses in Ireland at the time of the survey.

High anxiety was reported across all roles, with 34.7% reporting normal levels of anxiety, 22.9% in the borderline abnormal range, and 42.5% in the abnormal range.

However, the study shows that Irish veterinary professionals are at no greater risk of suicide than the general population in Ireland, based on a comparative study carried out by Maynooth University in 2020.

The study appears to mirror the findings of recent UK survey of more than 200 veterinary professionals, with 63% saying their mental health has worsened since taking up their career.

Research found that high stress levels, demanding workloads, and unmanageable expectations from clients were the main reasons given for the decline in mental health.

More than 40% of veterinary professionals said their their mental health is below average, citing issues like staff shortages and the pandemic pet ownership boom for leaving the industry in crisis..

The study by pharmaceutical company Vetoquinol UK also found 67% of respondents don’t feel that there is enough support in the industry to help them at present, however, 78% do know where they can seek it if needed, and 72% feel that they have someone they can talk to about their frustrations and work worries.

Nearly 67% of those polled chose the career due to a love of animals and passion for protecting their welfare.

Caitrina Oakes, Managing Director at Vetoquinol UK and NOAH Chair said: “It is now time for pet owners and businesses alike to recognise the mental strain this is putting on the industry. As a veterinary pharmaceutical company, we understand that we have a duty to look after the wellbeing of those on the frontline.

“That’s why we are proud to host a free three-part webinar series ‘ Battling Burnout with Vetoquinol ’, centred on offering practical guidance and tips on overcoming stress. This is just the start of our work in this space and we will continue to support the wellbeing of vets in 2022 and beyond.”