Conquering mountains for mental health

In March 2024, vet Johan Van Sittert is planning to climb Kilimanjaro – the worlds tallest free-standing mountain – in aid of Vetlife. In this blog, Johan talks about the motivation behind his epic climb.


I have been a practicing vet for just over 20 years now. In that time, I’ve been through many highs and lows. In a span of just 20 minutes, you can experience the happiness of a family welcoming a new pet, and then deal with the sadness of another family saying goodbye to a companion of many years in the next moment. These ups and downs can have an effect on the various members of the veterinary team, not only the vets, but also the reception team, the nurses and the veterinary care assistants.”


Add to this the long hours, a marked shortage of veterinarians and registered nurses making recruitment so challenging, and we have an industry that is struggling to look after ourselves and our team.


As a profession we can sometimes find it difficult to acknowledge that we may need help also.


This is where Vetlife comes in. Vetlife is a charity which helps support the veterinary community.


During 2022, Vetlife experienced a huge 236% increase in applications for Financial Support, and the Health Support service saw a 15.5% increase in referrals.  Donations are more important than ever to Vetlife, and I would like to do my part.


I have decided to trek up Kilimanjaro, taking the first steps up the mountain on the 1st of March 2024, hoping to summit on the 8th. At 5895 meters it is the highest peak in Africa, and I feel a proper representation of the struggles many people in this industry face every year. Every donation made will help ensure that Vetlife can continue to be there for all in the profession in need of support.


In support of Johan’s fundraising trek Vetlife President, Graham Dick said: “We are always amazed at the heights to which members of the veterinary community will go to raise much need funds for the charity. But this will possibly be one of the highest ever achieved on foot. We at Vetlife wish Johan a safe and rewarding journey”.


Donate to Johan’s fundraising page here. 


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