I realise it’s been a whole fortnight since my last blog post, due to new “deputy” intros to the school’s student council, geography fieldwork trips, Oxbridge lectures and the general run up to the half-term I didn’t feel I could quite do this topic justice.
Over the past few weeks I’ve felt under pressure, stressed, lost for time, even a bit low in my mood. My solutions are basic and include, planning and organising my time and revision, getting out for a stress busting gym session or quick run and especially venting my feelings and emotions to (tolerating) loved ones. Despite my efforts to change and do something about my daily stresses, I know that sometimes people can enter a spiral of… Well… Depression.
I’ve done a bit of research on depression. I’ve always been ignorant to the different forms of mental illness, until it became apparent that people around me were suffering before my eyes, wether it be at school or on social media sites.
So I’m no psychiatrist, but here’s what I’ve discovered about common form of work related stress and depression in the veterinarian profession. The most common sources for stress are related to hours worked, client expectations and unexpected outcomes. With younger vets and women especially feeling the most strains.
Most importantly to remember is that stress can not be defined as black or blue (white or gold) but it’s our own interpretation of our sanity and level of control whilst under pressure. It’s not always just work and deadlines, it’s a combination of keeping your knowledge and technical skills up to date, managing your personal relationships, finances and meeting your own expectations.
Usually people opt for informal support mechanisms, such as family and friends, workmates and other veterinarians, but their are health professionals, counsellors and other resources that people can access but realising when you make the step from “a little stressed out” to “mentally ill” can be difficult and sometimes embarrassing as people may feel they are admitting defeat.
What I was surprised to learn is that is is a fact that the veterinary profession has the highest risk of suicide of any particular grouping of people. People in the workplace are left with feelings anger, guilt and grief towards their lost colleague. This can be a very difficult and testing time as everyone has a different immediate reaction and similarly a different way of coping. Due to situations like this a specialist Vet Helpline was established to help with memorial planning and wound healing.
To conclude, I have realised that the ranges of stress and dealing with pressure can vary amongst almost anything from gender to age, job role to hours worked, there is no single definition or measure as we are all different and some more resilient than others.
I hope this read was insightful, and although I am no expert I hope that I have highlighted some of the common issues that vets can face due to stress. Next week I want to discuss some strategies for handling stress, however with exams looming I may not post as regularly. Follow me on Twitter @eviexsellars for updates on my latest posts. Hope you’re all enjoying the Easter hols!