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Promoting wellbeing in the veterinary profession

Dr Elinor O’Connor, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Psychology, has been working with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Mind Matters Initiative and the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) to provide an evidence-based approach to their Veterinary Wellbeing Awards.

Dr O’Connor has helped to devise this year’s awards, and will also sit on the panel of judges that will consider entries for the awards later this year.

Explained Dr O’Connor: “The awards build on AMBS’ ongoing research on occupational stress in veterinary work and are designed to promote wellbeing within the veterinary profession. They are open to UK veterinary workplaces of all sizes and have been created to recognise veterinary organisations that support colleagues’ wellbeing and that are committed to being good places to work.”

The psychological wellbeing of veterinary surgeons is a focus of attention within the profession, in part due to evidence of elevated suicide rates in vets. As Dr O’Connor explained: “Occupational stress has been suggested as a possible factor in poor psychological wellbeing in vets, but the literature relating to stress in veterinary work is limited.”

Dr O’Connor previously received funding for a scoping study of work-related stress in veterinary surgeons. The study identified key stressors in veterinary practice and also personality characteristics that may be over-represented in vets and which may interact with work stressors to compromise psychological health.

In 2014, the RCVS launched the ‘Mind Matters’ initiative to address mental health and wellbeing issues within the veterinary profession, and Dr O’Connor and colleagues in AMBS’s Organisational Psychology group are working in collaboration with the Mind Matters taskforce to develop practical stress intervention guidance for the veterinary profession.

Details of the Veterinary Wellbeing Awards can be found here.