Vet Connect: Mental Well-being

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I am prayerfully writing this aiming to shed some light not only from the perspective of the veterinary profession but from all service-providing professions as well, as we all try to manage during an unparalleled global pandemic. These ever-changing times have most everyone feeling anxious at some point or other. Veterinary healthcare team members are working diligently to recognize and ease anxiety in our pet owners. 

The veterinary profession prior to the COVID-19 outbreak knew psychological stress was a health hazard for professionals. While mental health has always been a concern within the industry, the current situation exacerbates this, with the addition of financial concerns, job security, and strains on client relationships. Veterinary professionals have an extra burden – they must remain calm, collected, and compassionate with frazzled pet owners and managing client relationships and expectations during these times.

Studies have shown not only substantial disruptions to a person’s personal and social life affect mental health, but also minor daily events, work hassles, family problems, and physical health status play a role. Add to this an unparalleled global pandemic resulting in massive uncertainty, and veterinary team members are at their breaking point – all while trying to maintain a calm demeanor and remain compassionate and empathetic with concerned/upset clients. 

Professionals all over are at a higher risk and experiencing compassion stress and fatigue. This is where someone is just going through the motions, burned out from caring so much for so long. 

In the recent absence of face-to-face contact, veterinary professionals (as I’m sure other service providers) have found it a struggle to communicate effectively with their clients. We are experiencing a form of broken connectedness with clients. Curbside services and care are becoming more commonplace, causing a loss of personal contact relationships. 

Take a normal, busy business day that can be crazy, but now add on curbside service while trying to accommodate everyone with more drop off capabilities and last-minute appointments. It is a struggle trying to keep everyone happy and safe. Staffing may be limited due to members either quarantining or even sick themselves. Phones are overloaded as more calls are being made to check in/check out, discussing service details and recommendations, all while scheduling appointments, taking medication refill requests, and addressing questions or concerns. The veterinary community is also currently experiencing an abundance of calls and requested services during this time in general. This could be from people in general spending more time at home and with their pets, noticing more what’s going on with the pets, being more active with pets which can lead to more injuries, etc. In our local, area we are also experiencing community growth which increases business. 

As I go about my daily encounters, I remind myself what the business or personnel on the flip side of the coin may be going through and experiencing. Compassion and empathy is needed more than ever during these times. Remember to share the love of Jesus during this time. We are all in this together.

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