A study carried out on behalf of VET Festival 2019 has found that 'veterinary wellness' is not recognised as an issue at 52% of UK veterinary practices and around 70% do not have a wellness programme or any plan to introduce one.

This is despite the fact that 84% of the 524 veterinary professionals that were polled said they believe that veterinary wellness is very important to the success of their practice.

Perhaps as a consequence, the survey found many respondents taking steps to look after their own wellness, with 57% saying they have started an exercise regime, 54% saying they have taken up other hobbies outside work and 44% saying they are talking more openly to colleagues to share problems and offer support.

When questioned about the obstacles to improving wellness in their practice, 'staff not having the time to focus on it' was cited by 76% as the main barrier. 52% said it was not recognised as an issue, while a further 49% said that the lack of trained personnel to champion wellness was the biggest problem.

Of those practices which had initiated a wellness programme, 83% said it made a positive difference. The most commonly reported wellness initiatives were the provision of a counselling service (38%), online resources (32%), and appointing a practice wellness champion (30%).

When asked what one thing their practice could do to enhance veterinary wellness, the two most popular suggestions were:

  • Improved communication and support with more openness and empathy (26%)

  • Improved team working with more breaks and a quiet area for staff (24%)

10% said that an acknowledgement that wellness was actually an issue would be a start.

VET Festival organiser Nicole Cooper said: "What we find startling about these results is that, despite a growing appreciation of the importance of veterinary wellness, almost half of the UK’s practices still don’t recognise it as an issue.

"The good news from this survey is that many veterinary professionals are now starting to take responsibility for their own mental health, whether through taking up interests outside work or sharing problems and experiences more openly at work. We urge more practice leaders to step up and to prioritise enhancing the wellness and wellbeing of their dedicated teams.

Veterinary wellness is a focus for this year’s VET Festival, which takes place on 7-8 June at Loseley Park in Surrey. There'll be expanded Wellness Hub offering sessions run by the charity VetLife, yoga and talks on meditation and reducing stress. 

Tickets for VET Festival can be purchased here: https://www.vetfestival.co.uk/delegate-info/ticket-information

PS: Whilst you're here, take a moment to see our latest job opportunities for vets.