Connect with veterinary well-being programs in your state

Published on July 26, 2017

Wellness-aliasURL-300x300Depending where you live, the depth and scope of professional wellness programs available to veterinarians vary widely on a state-by-state basis. So do the legal provisions addressing confidentiality for people who seek assistance.

To help you make sense of the resources available to veterinarians where you live, the AVMA has compiled state-by-state information into a one-stop website resource. State-by-State Wellness Programs for Veterinary Professionals will connect you and your veterinary colleagues with state-based well-being resources, and give you information that’s important as you consider whether and how to use them.

This one-page resource includes the most current laws, regulations and confidentiality provisions governing state wellness programs, and provides a contact point in each state for veterinary professionals seeking services. In many states, this is your state veterinary medical association; but also available in a number of states are peer-assistance volunteers – or “on-call” individuals – who can support and provide information to struggling veterinarians and their families.

Mental health and emotional well-being are among the top priorities of the AVMA, and we are committed to bringing these issues to the forefront of the veterinary community and developing resources to safeguard veterinarians’ mental well-being.

The State-by-State Wellness Programs resource is a result of that effort. Developed jointly by our state advocacy and membership teams, It lets you know exactly who to reach out to for assistance, whether for yourself or for a colleague.

State well-being programs vary in scope and mission. Some cater solely to the veterinary profession, while others serve all licensed medical professionals. They may include peer assistance, professional recovery, dependency, impairment and diversion.

Our research found laws and regulations authorizing or establishing specific wellness programs for veterinary professionals in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Such provisions were not found in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. If your state has no specific program, your most valuable resource will be your state’s veterinary medical association, which can help support and direct you to available services.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the well-being resources available in your state as well as the many other Wellness and Peer Assistance resources on the AVMA website. These are crucial tools for any member of the veterinary profession.

Gatekeeper training and community dialogue

One of the other wellness  resources we’re especially proud to offer members is a pilot program providing you free training to identify the signs that someone may be considering suicide, establish a dialogue with them, and steer them to get professional help. This wellness gatekeeper training is available free of charge to both AVMA and Student AVMA members. The program is available to a limited number of participants on a first-come, first-served basis, so we encourage you to sign up as soon as possible. The training is done entirely online and can be completed in 60 minutes or less.

We also invite all AVMA and SAVMA members to join the AVMA Veterinary Wellness and Well-being group on LinkedIn, which offers a community forum for members to engage in ongoing dialogue about mental wellness and well-being in the veterinary profession.

These are two more ways you can take an active role in the mental health conversation and make a real difference in improving wellness in your own life, as well as for others in the veterinary community. Learn more about both programs at