AVMA and RCVS join forces to tackle veterinary mental health issues

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For immediate release: 09/12/2018

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) have joined forces to promote improved mental health and wellbeing across the veterinary team.

Building on the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative brand in the UK and the AVMA's Wellbeing and Peer Assistance Initiative, the two organizations will work together on joint projects to advocate positive behavior and support around mental health, collaborate on developing evidence-based programs and share best practices around interventions.

The AVMA and RCVS issued a joint statement affirming the importance that both organizations place on a healthy and sustainable profession. It states: "We believe that for veterinary professionals to realize their full potential and the global veterinary profession to remain sustainable, maintaining high levels of mental health and wellbeing for all members of the veterinary team is a priority. Improving veterinary mental health and wellbeing has a positive impact on individuals, the profession at large and, ultimately, animal health and welfare, and public health."

The Mind Matters Initiative (www.vetmindmatters.org) has been running in the UK since 2015 and addresses mental ill-health within the veterinary team by tackling systemic issues that put individuals at risk; protecting those who may be working in suboptimal conditions by providing them with training and tools such as mindfulness and personal wellbeing solutions; and supporting those who need specific help by funding and promoting independent sources of one-to-one help.

Meanwhile the AVMA has a program of activities that address mental health issues, including the development of a workplace wellbeing education program and ongoing education and outreach in the areas of optimizing wellbeing, creating cultures of wellbeing in the workplace, boundary setting and conflict transformation. Visit www.avma.org/wellbeing for additional resources.

"Regardless of where we live and work, as members of the veterinary profession we have many issues in common," says Professor Stuart Reid, chair of the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative. "The RCVS and AVMA have been discussing how we might best share ideas, resources and best practices for some time and I was delighted to meet with the senior officers of the AVMA at their recent convention in Denver.

"I firmly believe that in collaborating with the AVMA we will be able to address more effectively the pressing issues around mental health and reinforce the many positives of working in such a wonderful profession."

AVMA President Dr. John de Jong concurs.

"As two highly respected veterinary organizations in the increasingly global veterinary community, it is both logical and important that the AVMA and RCVS stand together speaking to the topic of mental health and wellbeing that affects people in our profession as much or more than among the general public," said Dr. de Jong.

About the AVMA

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 95,000 member veterinarians worldwide engaged in a wide variety of professional activities and dedicated to the art and science of veterinary medicine.