In September, a group of Vets and RVNs including Robyn Lowe are trekking the 117KM Snowdonia Way to raise money for Vetlife. Robyn’s passionate about mental health and the profession, and is constantly awe inspired by the community spirit the profession has for helping people who are in need. Here, she talks about what Vetlife means to her.
Why I’m fundraising for Vetlife
I have yet to come across a veterinary professional who hasn’t been affected by mental health issues- whether it’s affected them personally, a colleague and friend, or they have suffered a loss. We are well aware that anxiety, burn out, compassion fatigue and depression are high within the profession with a suicide rate four times that of the general public. We also know that being a veterinary professional often brings a unique set of stressors and emotional burdens. Veterinary professionals have endless empathy and care so deeply for the animals they advocate for. They are faced daily with tough emotional, ethical and moral decisions. Although as a profession we unanimously agree that we should conquer these issues, we are conscious that these won’t be overnight changes. Consequently services like Vetlife are essential, and its imperative we continue to raise awareness and support the charity to the best of our abilities.
It is never the wrong time to address your mental health. No problem is ever too trivial. If it is bothering you then it IS important to Vetlife and to the veterinary community.
As a veterinary community, we should endeavour to educate on the mental health issues surrounding us, break the taboo. Stop soldiering on until breaking point and work towards a better, brighter and more sustainable future for ourselves and our colleagues. The thoughts and feeling you or a colleague may be experiencing might feel so lonely and bewildering. But to know that there are others who have felt the same, and that there always is someone out there who will reach out their hand to you is important. No matter how trivial it may seem, whether veterinary related or family, friends, loneliness or you just feel down but can’t understand why, Vetlife is available to you.
An ‘imperfect’ storm
The pandemic has shown us all how resilient we can be, but many have understandably struggled carrying a huge burden on their shoulders for the last year and a half. An ‘imperfect’ storm of staff retention issues, pandemic causing staff isolation and skeleton shifts – the difficulties faced by our amazing vets from aboard to continue to work in the UK, and a boom in pet ownership during lockdown has had many implications and grief within our profession. If you have suddenly hit that proverbial wall; Vetlife will be there.
Looking at the statistics it’s clear to see that reliance on Vetlife services is growing year on year. 2019 was a record year, but then the pandemic hit and Vetlife saw a 25% increase in calls in comparison to 2019 levels. Our profession needed them and as ever, 24 hours a day, they were there.
Please never feel like you are travelling the journey alone. The veterinary industry is full of the most astounding, imaginative, intelligent, inspirational, kind, generous individuals. It is absolutely okay, to not be okay! But please don’t be ‘not okay’ on your own. You do not need to walk this journey without your collective profession embracing you and supporting you. And if you’re not ready for that, then Vetlife is here; anonymously, day or night, every single day of the year. Please do not hesitate to seek help.
To donate to Robyn’s Snowdonia fundraiser, visit the fundraising page here.