The BVA is investing in the Young Vet Network (YVN) in an effort to address concerns about mental health in those younger than 35.
The association will support recent graduate groups and help individuals make connections with other young vets in their regions.
The association’s new support will include funding to set up regional groups and run meetings, and a dedicated team to act as a point of contact for YVN groups to help establish and facilitate new groups throughout the UK – both via social media and physical meetings – and to signpost resources available to vets to help them in their early careers, including with their mental health and well-being.
The move follows findings from the BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, which showed 45% of vets younger than 35 have had concerns about their mental health in the past year.
While those younger than 35 are among the most likely to seek support, half of vets younger than 35 with concerns did not seek support and 45% of all vets reported they weren’t sure, or could not recognise, the signs of mental ill health in a colleague.
A Vet Futures survey also found recent graduates actively looked for and wanted supportive working environments in the early stages of their careers, with two out of five students and young graduates rating a “supportive workplace” as a key factor in influencing career choice.
As a member of the RCVS-led Mind Matters initiative, the BVA is also calling on the profession as a whole to help support the next generation of vets and is urging employers and managers to make use of a wide range of practical resources available to help with the professional development phase (PDP) and mentoring recent graduates. These include:
- the SPVS well-being award and checklist
- the BSAVA PDP resources for employers and employees
- the BVA’s own resources, which include PDP guidance, contracts of employment, personal development reviews and webinars aimed at recent graduates
- Vetlife, an independent charity, provides free and confidential support to the veterinary community through a helpline, a health support programme and a fund for financial support
‘Taking a lead’
BVA president Sean Wensley said: “These statistics present a sobering challenge to the veterinary profession and it is essential we all take steps to support our colleagues. We all have a role to play in making veterinary workplaces supportive and nurturing places for recent graduates.
“Through the Young Vet Network, the BVA is taking a lead to help graduates fulfil their potential as veterinary surgeons, helping them cope with the pressures of the job in their early careers.
“We know we are not alone – there is some fantastic work going on, with some employers embracing PDP and practices making innovative and positive use of ideas, such as reflective practice sessions.
“But clearly this isn’t happening everywhere and we need to make sure good practice is widely disseminated and replicated so we urge everyone to make use of the resources and guides available.”
- Anyone interested in setting up a YVN group, including funding support, should email Tim Keen at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 7908 6343.