In 2014, a new Facebook group was started called Not One More Vet (NOMV) by a wonderful veterinarian named Nicole. She was pained by the death of Sophia Yin from mental illness. Nicole thought this Facebook page would be a good way for close veterinary friends to talk about the stresses that we go through and to hopefully make an impact, however small, in veterinary medicine. It could be a place to start changing the way we view mental illness and suicide as a profession. Even the CDC has noticed that veterinary medicine has an unusually high number of anxiety, depression, and suicide, to the point that the CDC has been working on figuring out why this is the case. There are many theories, including access to methods, frequent explanation and belief that euthanasia is often the best (or only) option, perfectionism, compassion fatigue, and many others.
I was lucky enough to be asked to join this group about 2 weeks after it began. I have made new friends and seen a change in my own mental health for the better. In August of 2016, I heard that there was a backlog of people trying to join the group, but it was becoming more and more difficult to verify that people were in fact veterinarians, so I saw a need and offered to help. The group of 4 admins (Nicole, Carrie, Jason, and David) jumped on the offer and the as more veterinarians were approved to join, the requests to join came in exponentially, we have added 2 additional admins (Nora and Leigh to help as our international contingency has grown dramatically). As of today (April 1, 2017), it is no joke, but the group has reached 11,400 members! Wow, is it a lot of work to keep track of everyone and see that when they cry out for help, we are there to give it to them.
Despite having so many veterinarians connected and doing a lot to help them, we have not been able to stop the suicides. We have stopped some of them, and multiple people have come to us to share their stories of coming back from the abyss of depression and the edge of suicide and surviving. Until we can reach them all, we are not done. For this reason, Nicole, Carrie, Jason, David, and I have started Not One More Vet (non-profit status pending). On that page, we have resources available for anyone in the midst of a mental health crisis. There is also a location on the web page for veterinarians to register to join the Facebook group, as well as links to Your Daily Dose, our self care blog, and ways to contact us for speaking engagements, donation information, or general questions.
A fellow veterinarian was given this “Veterinary Survival Kit” along with the mentioned items after speaking to a middle school class!
If you are a pet owner and appreciate your veterinarian, please let them know! Some days we go from a euthanasia to a new puppy appointment to a giving devastating news to a family to a sick animal that just needs a little extra help to get better. We do our best to be positive and support you. We may not be able to say it, but sometimes, we (and our support staff) need your support, too. A hug, a smile, a kind word, or even some chocolate or fruit can go a long way.
Are you a veterinarian or have a loved one that is a veterinarian that you think may need help? Please contact us. We would love to help and serve you!