A new study of veterinary professionals shows that while 84% believe that veterinary wellness was “very important” to the success of their practice, more than 75% had no plans to introduce a wellness programme and only 30% had a wellness programme in place or a wellness champion.
According to the survey carried out on behalf of the organisers of the VET Festival 2019, 50% of practices said they didn’t recognise veterinary wellness as an issue.
The survey showed that many respondents are now focusing on ‘self-care’ with 57% saying they have started an exercise regime, 54% saying they have taken up other hobbies outside work and 44% saying they are talking more openly to colleagues to share problems and offer support.
When questioned as to the obstacles to improving wellness in their practice, “staff not having the time to focus on it” was cited by 76% as the key barrier. Some 52% claimed it was not recognised as an issue at their practice while a further 49% said that the lack of trained personnel to champion wellness was the biggest problem.
Of the quarter of practices which had initiated a wellness programme, 83% said that it had made a positive difference. Wellness initiatives included the provision of a counselling service cited by 38% of respondents and of online resources cited by 32%. Additionally, 30% said that their practice had appointed a wellness champion as part of their wellness programme.
When asked what “one thing” their practice could do to enhance veterinary wellness, the two most popular suggestions were: improved communication and support with more openness and empathy and improved team working with more breaks and a quiet area for staff.
Nicole Cooper, managing director, events division, Fitz All Media said: “What we find startling about these results is that, despite a growing appreciation of the importance of veterinary wellness, almost half of the UK’s practices still don’t recognise it as an issue.
“The good news from this survey is that many veterinary professionals are now starting to take responsibility for their own mental health, whether through taking up interests outside work or sharing problems and experiences more openly at work. We urge more practice leaders to step up and to prioritise enhancing the wellness and wellbeing of their dedicated teams.”