Committee on Mental Health and Well-Being
Mental health is a major issue in the field of veterinary medicine and remains a growing concern to the profession. Veterinarians also have a higher rate of suicide than the general population. Bovine veterinarians are also greatly at risk for serious mental illness, burnout, and depression. Apart from the tragedy of losing a veterinary professional to suicide, the effects of mental illness also influence employee retention and career satisfaction, which are key elements to AABP membership.
The charge of the Committee on Mental Health and Well-Being includes:
- Review the relevant publications on veterinary mental health and mental health in agriculture to identify key areas of focus.
- Anonymously survey the AABP membership to see what they struggle with and what they need in the way of resources to aid their own mental health issues or those of a friend or colleague.
- List key areas of focus for the AABP and its members (Ex. Student debt, workplace stress, work-life balance, lack of debriefing, etc.)
- Develop resources to address the key issues identified and bring them to the AABP board for approval and funding if required.
- Access to mental health training
- Identify steps to take for self-care. (Such as what to do when you are feeling stressed; How to properly debrief; How to live a simple and healthy lifestyle to improve mental wellbeing. Etc.)
- Development of an AABP social site where members can see the profile of other AABP members with their special interests, hobbies, pastimes, etc. Encourage members to communicate on these common grounds as well as on the grounds of a passion for bovine medicine.
- Offer access to therapy when needed and discover methods for removing financial barriers.
- Provide links to other industry mental health initiatives as well as bovine veterinary mental health and mental health in agriculture initiatives so that members feel comfortable and confident in coming to the AABP or the AABP website when they need help.
- Offer solutions for those who inevitably feel that veterinary medicine is not for them. Provide information on other areas of employment where veterinarians excel (Industry, government, etc.) and they can have a successful career.
- Monitor the resources used. Remove any underutilized initiatives and continue to develop others to respond to the evolving needs of the profession.
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Charles E. Gardner