With the high prevalence of depression and suicide in the veterinary profession so well documented, the BVA’s Members’ Services Group has devised and distributed a Vet Helpline sticker as a practical measure to promote the wide range of help and support available to vets, nurses and students.

With the high prevalence of depression and suicide in the veterinary profession so well documented, the BVA’s Members’ Services Group has devised and distributed a Vet Helpline sticker as a practical measure to promote the wide range of help and support available to vets, nurses and students. 
 
The suicide rate within the veterinary profession is around four times higher than in the general population The suicide rate within the veterinary profession is around four times higher than in the general population and around twice that of other high risk groups, which include farmers and medical practitioners.
 
Research has shown that long hours, the risk of professional mistakes and rising client expectation and administrative work lead to high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms. Ready access to and knowledge of lethal means such as medicines and firearms may also be contributing factors in the increased suicide risk.
 
According to the BVA’s Members’ Services Group, the Vet Helpline sticker is intended to act as a constant reminder to veterinary professionals that a confidential helpline, manned by trained volunteers from the veterinary profession, is available around the clock, 365 days a year, to offer support and direct them to specialist help where appropriate.
 
As well as the Vet Helpline number, the sticker includes contact information for the Samaritans and includes the address of the Vetlife website – a “one stop shop” that provides information on all the support available to veterinary surgeons, nurses and students from both the established veterinary charities and from outside the profession.
 
Vet   Helpline stickerBVA president Bill Reilly said: “Please remember that if you’re feeling depressed, lonely or under pressure, or are perhaps worried about a colleague, you can talk it over in confidence with trained volunteers from the veterinary profession. The Vet Helpline is there for all veterinary surgeons, nurses and students.
 
“Ours is a small profession and sadly most of us know someone who has suffered mental ill health or taken their own life.  We hope that by reminding colleagues how to get help and continuing to publicise the Vetlife website and the Veterinary Benevolent Fund support services the BVA can play its part in supporting vets in crisis.”
 
The Vet Helpline (07659 811118) is funded by the Veterinary Benevolent Fund (VBF). For further information, see www.vetlife.org.uk
 
The Vet Helpline sticker is being distributed with copies of the Veterinary Record (dated February 20). Additional stickers can be ordered, free of charge, from the BVA via Amelia Findon (ameliaf@bva.co.uk).

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