Vetlife has produced a short film about a veterinary surgeon’s experience of severe depression and her inspiring recovery. It is hoped that the film will encourage the veterinary profession to talk more openly about stress and depression in the workplace and will motivate veterinary employers to adopt best practice in supporting their staff’s mental health.
Nick Short, the VBF Director responsible for the development of the Vetlife website, said:
“We are so grateful to the veterinary surgeon concerned for having the courage to share her story and for her insights into what could be done to make recovery easier for other vets. We were delighted to hear that she felt she was treated well and got the help she needed from the Veterinary Benevolent Fund and the Veterinary Surgeons’ Health Support Programme.
Recent press reports have estimated that the cost to the UK economy of stress, depression and suicide is £26 billion per year. We know that the profession has a high incidence of these problems, so it follows that depressive illness must have an alarming economic effect on it. This means it is essential to invest in improving awareness and support.
The VBF wants to produce more web videos on issues that veterinary surgeons, students or nurses commonly encounter such as debt, addiction, professional conduct or employment problems. However, we need to secure additional sponsorship in order to fund this work – each 5 minute video will cost about £2,500 to produce. If you or your organization would be interested in supporting this work, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/VBF.
Rory O’Connor, National Co-ordinator at the Veterinary Surgeons’ Health Support Programme commented:
“Many of us will have mental health problems at some point in our lives but most can make a full return to work with the right support. As highlighted in the film, it is really helpful if employers are willing to explore adjustments to working conditions or to the working environment such as flexible working hours or changes to working responsibilities. I am always available to help both employers and employees with these kinds of discussions and we are currently developing content on mental health support in the workplace for the Vetlife website. All advice is completely confidential.”
The film was made by John Somers and Ben Sheriff at the University of Exeter using an actress to speak the words of the veterinary surgeon and applying simple visual techniques to make it more engaging.
Useful advice for employers can be found on a guide produced by the mental health charity MIND: Employers' Guide to Mentally Healthy Workplaces.