Merck Animal Health Veterinarian Wellbeing Study III was conducted to continue to monitor mental health and well being within the veterinary profession in the US and to identify factors associated with high levels of wellbeing and lack of serious psychological distress.
A questionnaire consisting of several instruments and questions for measurement of mental health and wellbeing was completed by 2,495 veterinarians and 448 veterinary support staff. Results for veterinarians were weighted to the US AVMA membership.
This study revealed that wellbeing and mental health of some veterinarians declined over the past 2 years, driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme labor shortages. Burnout remained at a high level, but there was no increase in suicide ideation. A new companion survey of veterinary support staff demonstrated that staff scored lower in wellbeing and mental health, and higher in burnout than veterinarians.
Importantly, these studies identified techniques that both individuals and employers may find useful in fostering wellbeing and good mental health. A healthy method for coping with stress and good work-life balance was important, as was engaging a financial adviser for those with student debt or other financial stresses. Employers should create safe environments where employees feel comfortable seeking help, reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues. In addition, employers can provide Employee Assistance Programs and health insurance that covers mental health treatment. Fostering a healthy work culture was also important, one with good communication, teamwork, trust, and adequate time allotted to provide quality patient care.