Looking after employees

Evidence suggests that levels of psychological distress and mental ill health affect people who are in work, as much as the rest of the general population.

On the whole all employers (not just veterinary ones) do not recognise, or choose to ignore, the signs of mental ill health and, according to recent surveys, grossly underestimate how many of their employees may need help (Shaw Trust 2010).

Which aspects of veterinary work cause most psychological distress?

Veterinary surgeons are at an elevated risk of depression and suicide and commonly attribute their psychological distress to these problems at work:

  • Work intensity (pace and volume)
  • Duration of working hours and its associated effects on personal lives
  • Feeling undervalued by senior staff and/or management
  • Performance anxiety – particularly if recently qualified

Nonetheless, work is on the whole good for mental and physical health and for many people being at work in a supportive workplace can be part of the solution rather than the problem.

What are the business costs of mental ill health?

  • Sickness absence
  • Reduced productivity at work (‘presenteeism’)
  • Replacing staff who leave their job because of mental ill health