The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) has launched a new Safevet Smart Handbook, which it says will provide practical mental health advice and support for veterinary professionals.

Its author, Dr Margaret O’Rourke is a clinical psychologist and director of behavioural science at the School of Medicine in University College Cork.

The Safevet Smart handbook is described by the VCI as an “evidence-based practical guide to managing stress and building resilience” for members of the veterinary professions.

L-R: Dr. Ailís Ní Riain, VCI deputy president; Niamh Muldoon, VCI CEO and registrar; and Joe Moffitt, VCI president. Image source: Chris Bellew, Fennell Photography

Discussing her research findings, Dr. O’Rourke said: “Mental health is an often overlooked area, and one which all veterinary professionals should be conscious of on an ongoing basis.

Long hours, complex cases, heavy workloads, paperwork, demanding owners, litigation risk, poor career advancement, and financial challenges are just some of the stressors faced in practice.

“I would encourage all veterinary professionals to work to maintain their mental health, in order to properly ensure their own happiness and comfort, and that of the animals they care for,” she added.

The council highlighted that the Safevet Smart Handbook provides mental health advice relevant to veterinary professionals throughout every stage of their careers.

L-R: Joe Moffitt, VCI president; Dr. Ailís Ní Riain, VCI deputy president; and Niamh Muldoon, VCI CEO and registrar. Image source: Chris Bellew, Fennell Photography

It offers “tips and practical advice to help establish good habits, maintain a healthy mind and body, as well as financial advice, alongside strategies for managing conflict and difficult people”.

Speaking at the launch, Niamh Muldoon, chief executive and registrar of the Veterinary Council of Ireland, said:

Veterinary medicine, while a highly rewarding career, can also be extremely challenging at times, so the council is working on an ongoing basis to gain a better understanding of this issue and how we can best support our registrants.

The VCI is currently conducting research among its registrants in the area of mental health in the veterinary professions, to gain a better understanding of the topic and to help establish what can be done to support veterinary practitioners and veterinary nurses.

The National Office for Suicide Prevention and the National Suicide Research Foundation will assist the VCI in carrying out vital research in relation to resilience, mental health and suicide prevention amongst the veterinary professions.

The veterinary council will provide registrants with a link to the survey in due course. A copy of the Safevet Smart handbook will be sent to each veterinary practitioner and veterinary nurse on the veterinary council register.