Banfield Pet Hospital effort strives to help vets as suicide rates rise

“I don’t really think people who are entering this profession anticipate the amount of intense emotions,” said Stewart-Brown. “The reality is if you’re sitting there next to someone who loses their best friend because it’s the end of their life and they’re grieving – if you’re right in this room you’re going to feel these emotions. And then if you’re an empathetic person and love animals, you’re going to feel it even more. I don’t think they really anticipated the toll it would cost, and I don’t think they necessarily developed the skills to handle it. One of the biggest challenges for our associates is to help them develop this skill set.

Stewart-Brown said the program takes a “holistic approach” to mental health. Instead of focusing solely on treating depression and anxiety, the program aims to address the root causes of mental health problems. Stewart-Brown said revealing feelings and emotions and learning how to deal with them is probably the biggest challenge in reversing suicide rates among vets.

“They’re very good at walling themselves off and being very professional, but they don’t always take care of themselves and it just adds up,” said Stewart-Brown. “In my profession as a social worker, we knew coming in that this was going to be a heartbreaking job, so we talk about it out loud – we talk about what we do to keep ourselves from burning out or having secondary post-traumatic stress disorder. . . In the field of veterinary medicine, this is not the reality.

Banfield has focused on reducing associate student debt because it is common and expensive in the profession. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, graduate veterinarians owe an average of $ 167,000 in student loans. The average starting salary for a Banfield veterinarian is approximately $ 85,000.

As part of the health and wellness program, Banfield pays each associate’s lending agency $ 150 per month, which can also help associates refinance loans at lower interest rates, said Banfield Chief Medical Officer Molly McAllister.

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