To explore veterinarians’ mental health symptom burden during COVID-19 and identify differences in symptom burden, social support, help seeking, and incentives and barriers associated with receiving help across career stages.
Online survey responses from 266 veterinarians between June 4 and September 8, 2021.
Respondents were grouped by career stage (early [< 5 years of experience], middle [5 to 19 years of experience], or late [≥ 20 years of experience]), and results were compared across groups.
Of the 262 respondents who reported years of experience, 26 (9.9%) were early career, 130 (49.6%) were midcareer, and 106 (40.4%) were late career. The overall mean anxiety and depression symptom burden score was 3.85 ± 3.47 (0 to 2 = normal; 3 to 5 = mild; 6 to 8 = moderate; and 9 to 12 = severe), with 62 of 220 (28.1%) respondents reporting moderate to severe symptom burden. Most (164/206 [79.6%]) reported not accessing behavioral health providers, and of these, 53.6% (88/164) reported at least mild symptom burden. There were significant differences in both symptom burden and mental health help-seeking intentions across career stages, with early- and midcareer (vs late-career) veterinarians reporting higher symptom burden (P = .002) and midcareer (vs late-career) veterinarians reporting higher help-seeking intentions (P = .006). Barriers and incentives for seeking mental health care were identified.
Findings revealed differences in symptom burden and intentions to seek mental health care across veterinary career stages. Incentives and barriers identified serve to explain these career stage differences.