The Australian Association of Psychologists (AAPi) supports the call forgovernment to invest $3m towards supporting the lives and well-being ofAustralian veterinarians.

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) called on both major parties aheadof the federal election to commit $3 million over five years towardsveterinary mental health, with the investment including whole of careermentoring, dedicated veterinary counselling services, and the development anddelivery of veterinary specific education material.

Tegan Carrison, Executive Director at AAPi, said veterinarians had one of thehighest suicide rates in the world and that in Australia a vet takes their ownlife every 12 weeks.

“Not only do we need to increase awareness of the pressure they are under andnormalise the need to seek support, we need to make psychological servicesmore accessible so help is there when it is needed.”

Carrison said that the Medicare rebate for all psychologists needed to beraised to $150 so those who needed mental health could afford it.

Dr Nadine Hamilton, AAPi psychologist and a leading expert on veterinarianmental health, said she had made a submissions, including a pre-budgetsubmission by AAPi in 2021, for grant funding for vet mental health but theyhad all been rejected.

“I feel the government is not seeing the desperate need in this profession.The funding we applied for would have gone towards counselling, wellbeingworkshops and educational resources.”

Hamilton said although public awareness of veterinary mental health hadimproved, a stigma amongst the profession about seeking help remained.

“A lot of vets feel ashamed about asking for help and often don’t want to goto their GP in the beginning to get a referral to a psychologist – if theycould self-refer it would streamline the process.

“Vet nursing staff are also under pressure and often need counselling but forthem it is often a budgetary issue that stops them from going.”

If you are a veterinarian who is experiencing a difficult time, please callthe Australian Veterinary Association on 1300 687 327 for confidentialtelephone counselling.

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Tagged: ava, mental health, veterinarians

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