Vet suicide rates: the ongoing problem

To mark National Suicide Prevention month, we wanted to raise awareness of the disproportionally high suicide rates facing the veterinary sector. Carry on reading to find out how you can help protect yours and your team’s wellbeing in the veterinary workplace. 


Common stressors in the veterinary sector can include: 

  • High workload
  • Unreasonable performance expectations
  • Working unsocial hours
  • Lack of support from management 
  • Burnout
  • Psychological distress
  • Compassion fatigue


What can managers do to support mental wellbeing in the workplace? 

Create a culture of acceptance 

Talk openly about mental health, especially if you’re a manager. This will set the tone for the rest of the team and create a supportive environment where everyone feels comfortable reaching out for help if they need it. 

Employee assistance programmes 

Offering your workforce access to confidential support, including counselling is a really effective way to help employees navigate any work-related stress that could be impacting their mental wellbeing.  

Encourage regular breaks

Where possible, encourage your team to take regular breaks away from their immediate vicinity of work/ the treatment room – ideally somewhere they can get fresh air and a change of scenery. This will give your colleagues the chance to recharge and return to their shift feeling more energised. 

Effective shift scheduling 

Try and make sure that schedules allow enough rest time between shifts – particularly those switching from day to night shifts or vice versa. In a profession such as veterinary medicine, concentration is very much needed to ensure the safety of staff; hence getting enough sleep is crucial. 

Training programmes

Training programmes can help veterinary staff deal with everything from compassion fatigue, to handling complaints. Consider offering free courses to staff so they can learn techniques to cope with the day-to-day pressures of working in such a high-pressure environment. 


How to prioritise your own mental health


Practising mindfulness can help mitigate stress by reducing the activity in the part of your brain known as the amygdala. It works by bringing your mind into the present and teaches you to accept each emotion as and when it arrives. Techniques can vary from simple breathing exercises, to mindful eating

Work/life balance

We understand better than anyone that being a vet means giving up a lot of your free time. Try and do something that boosts your mood once every day – whether that’s a 20 minute nap after work, a gym session or sitting down in front of the TV with your favourite meal. 

Talking to friends

Research has suggested that those who have an active social life are more likely to live longer than those who don’t. Again, we know you’re busy – but do schedule time to see your friends where possible. Even if it’s just a quick catch up over a coffee or a Zoom call check-in, do prioritise your friendships! 


These are just a few suggestions of the many ways in which you can build a more positive work environment where wellbeing is a priority and stress feels more manageable. 

If you need someone to talk to, call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or contact via email at [email protected]