Understanding the Veterinary Mental Health Crisis

The Veterinary Mental Health Crisis.

At Pet Cremation Services (PCS), we understand the often-overlooked mental health challenges faced by vets and vet techs and the rollercoaster of emotions those in the profession experience daily.

Managing the joys of healing to the sadness of loss, while caring for sick and wounded animals can take a heavy emotional toll. And, while some cope well, the stress of making tough decisions coupled with long hours and overexposure to the suffering of pets and their grieving families, can lead to compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue, characterized by mental and physical exhaustion, can be incredibly draining for vet professionals, prompting some to leave the profession, become desensitized, or in severe cases, contemplate self-harm. 

Highlighting the severity of this issue, a 2019 CDC study stressed the heightened risk of suicide among veterinary professionals compared to the general population. They found that male vets were 1.6 times more likely to die by suicide than the average person, and female vets were 2.4 times more likely. Similarly, male vet technicians or technologists are five times more likely to die by suicide, with their female counterparts 2.3 times more likely.

This topic hits close to home for us at PCS, too. With 19 years of experience closely supporting vets and vet techs, Jack Seymour, who oversees Quality and Packing Control at PCS, has long witnessed firsthand the toll that compassion fatigue can take. Motivated by this, Jack has taken proactive steps to understand how PCS can better support these professionals.
Recently, Jack reached out to several colleagues in the veterinary industry to gain insight into the available resources for preventing and addressing compassion fatigue. While he found that many veterinary offices offer support resources, the level of assistance varies. Some provide 24/7 onsite support or have in-house psychiatrists, while others offer assistance through medical packages.  

Larger companies that he spoke shared that they went above and beyond to look out for one another, fostering tight-knit communities and appointing a designated caregiver during emergency shifts. 

Reflecting on his conversations, Jack notes, “We’re making progress, but there’s still more to be done.” 

Ultimately, Jack’s efforts align with PCS’s broader mission: to be more than just a crematorium, but an ally to these professionals in need. As part of this commitment, we encourage veterinary professionals or students experiencing difficulties to reach out to one of our team members or explore the mental health resources provided below: 

Through ongoing dialogue, advocacy, and support initiatives, we aim to foster a community where compassion fatigue is acknowledged, addressed, and ultimately reduced. Together, let’s continue to prioritize the well-being of those who dedicate their lives to caring for our beloved animal companions.

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