Following the 31.01.2016 article by AVS president Helena Diffey in Times Higher Education, the Veterinary Schools Council is very mindful of the concerns that Ms Diffey highlights and the need for effective support programmes to be in place to aid veterinary students and professionals when they experience stress and mental health issues.
The vocational nature of a veterinary medicine degree means that it is about preparing for a particular career and lifestyle, one that will involve complex decisions and emotionally charged situations with animals and people. This, combined with high entry requirements and equally high standards of attainment required throughout, can make studying for the veterinary medicine degree seem consuming and so potentially stressful.
Veterinary schools are aware of this and are committed to the mental well-being of their students. Support structures are in place in all veterinary schools and it is important that students make use of these in times of difficulty. It is the responsibility of veterinary schools to continually improve these services and to recognise that they are a core aspect of veterinary education.
Beyond the veterinary schools, the Mind Matters Initiative was launched in 2014 by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to further understand the ways in which veterinary students and professionals are affected by stress and mental health issues, and to develop ways of addressing these issues – for instance by establishing a confidential support helpline for vets. It is an excellent and far-reaching initiative, and has the full support of the Veterinary Schools Council.