The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has added three new members to its Professional Wellness Group (PWG) to improve the health and well-being of veterinarians.

The three new members are Dr. Veerle van Geenhoven, a senior veterinarian at the Centre for Clinical Veterinary Medicine at Ludgwig University, Munich; Dr. Elli Kalemtzaki, a veterinarian and certified professional coach; Dr. Debbie Stoewen, a veterinarian and creator of education program The Social Side of Practice.

The trio have joined the team to help the mental health globally of veterinarians and plan to release a set of global guidelines in early 2022 aimed at bringing positive change and enhancing the well-being of veterinarians.

Dr. Warwick Vale, President of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) said Australia is amid a veterinary shortage which is severely impacting veterinarian’s mental health.

“In practice we’re seeing burnout of our veterinarians at the coalface; they’re under-resourced in manpower. We’ve seen declining mental health and suicide, which is a huge problem in our profession.

“Lack of staff and high case loads are leading to burnout and declining mental health. They’re having to do extra and longer shifts, and many of those veterinarians are choosing to walk away from the profession, from servicing and from working as veterinarians because of these mental health issues and the stress that they’re under.”

If you are a veterinarian who is experiencing a difficult time, please call the Australian Veterinary Association on 1300 687 327 for confidential telephone counselling.