How can employers help prevent problems?




  • In roles where trauma and emotional distress are commonplace, it’s important staff are given the opportunity to debrief after challenging situations. Even for experienced staff, there can be a cumulative impact whereby small incidents gradually take their toll over time.  See Compassion Fatigue


  • Peer support is also important – whether that’s having a ‘buddy system’ in place, or simply looking out for colleagues by asking how they are, and listening to their responses. Similarly, regular meetings create an opportunity and space to talk – not just about work but also wellbeing


  • Recent graduates should not be left without adequate clinical support and structured case discussions


  • Initiatives such as flexible working hours and social events can improve work-life balance and relationships between employees. As well as having initiatives in place, they need to be promoted effectively and be easy to access


  • Employers need to ensure every member of staff has clearly outlined roles and responsibilities; and that their workload is manageable and targets achievable. Having frequent meetings creates the space for employees to discuss any issues they are facing and develop methods to tackle these problems.


  • The physical workspace is also hugely important as lighting, temperature and greenery all play a role in how we feel


  • Adopt an organisation-wide approach to promoting the mental wellbeing of all employees, including a ‘wellbeing policy’. Staff surveys can highlight areas where the organisation is doing well and areas that can be improved on, as long as they are conducted confidentially. They can also show where existing policies and practice are not consistently applied. For example, if responses indicate staff don’t feel that mental health as a topic is talked about, employers need to begin to start talking openly about it, normalising such conversations


  • Train managers to  identify and respond with sensitivity to employees’ emotional concerns and symptoms of mental health problems – BSAVA and Mind Matters run mental health awareness courses, as do charities such as Mind


  • Managers might want to use Mind’s Wellness Action Plan tool to identify what helps people stay well at work, as well as outlining what to do if someone is experiencing a mental health problem, including specific symptoms, triggers and support needs and agreed solutions. These person-centred, tailored plans can be effective as they recognise the fluctuating, individual nature of mental health problems. Even more importantly, they can facilitate constructive and supportive conversations about managing mental ill health


  • SPVS, in partnership with the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative, are turning the spotlight on practices where wellbeing is valued, inviting them to share what they are doing well with other owners and managers via their new ‘Wellbeing Award’.  The award will recognise those practices with management systems and initiatives that motivate and engage their staff and who can demonstrate their commitment to being a better place to work


  • Adopt a management style that encourages participation, delegation, constructive feedback, mentoring and coaching


  • Provide employees with opportunities for flexible working according to their needs and aspirations, in both their personal and working lives


  • Intervene to improve access to care, particularly access to medical and evidence-based psychological support which, wherever possible, enables people to continue working


  • Provide effective rehabilitation to facilitate the reintegration of vets and vet nurses with respect and sensitivity back into the workplace following a mental health problem


  • If a practice has an EAP  then make sure it is well advertised and that all staff know it is completely confidential and free to access

Vetlife has been there to support me through this extremely difficult period of my life.