Looking after employees
There is strong evidence that whilst work is generally good for our mental health, many employees experience psychological distress and mental ill health from time to time.
Whilst suffering mental ill health at work is becoming more recognised, it is still the case that many employers (not just veterinary ones) do not recognise, or in some cases choose to ignore, the signs of mental ill health in their staff. A 2017 report noted that that, in the UK, around 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year, and around 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition.
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 on the whole is 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