The statistics are hard to read. Male veterinarians are 1.6 times more likely to die by suicide. Female vets, a growing majority of the profession, are at even higher risk as they are 2.4 times the risk. Recent data shows that our support staff members are at even greater risk.
How did NOMV (Not One More Vet) get started?
So, what do we do about this as a profession? Our founder, Nicole McArthur, didn’t intend to start a charity when she started a small Facebook group to talk with her vet friends about the day to day struggles of the job. The group filled a need that no one really realized was there: sometimes you really just need to talk to someone who gets it. Those conversations can help you process what’s happening, and maybe you get a little advice that helps get you back on your feet.
The group has grown tremendously in the last 5 years. We now have over 20,000 veterinarians in our vet support forum. Our newly opened support staff forum had 1000 members within one day of opening and continues to grow rapidly. These groups are monitored by a team of over 40 peer moderators. These volunteers are training in crisis intervention, and help keep conversations supportive as well as reach out to people who seem like they need more help than just a supportive ear.
NOMV has grown as well. In 2017, we became a registered 501c3 charity, and started to expand our support resources. Right now, NOMV has three main programs to help struggling veterinary professionals.
What does NOMV do?
We have an educational program. All of our board members speak extensively on subjects like veterinary wellbeing and crisis intervention. These programs are available at many major conferences, as well as free RACE certified webinars through our partners at Mightyvet.org.
We also have a grant program. The truth is sometimes you just need a little help. Our grant program provides that. We have helped pay for mental health treatments not covered by insurance, we’ve helped find relief vets and much more. It’s amazing what a motivated team of volunteers and a little bit of money can do to help someone out of a crisis.
Finally, we have our peer to peer support programs. Our NOMV vet and support staff moderators field a couple dozen request daily for support. Some of these people we refer to our online communities, so they can receive support from their peers. Some need a little bit more help than that, and we refer them to our peer support resources page. This page includes a new program called the Veterinary Interactive Screening Program (VISP). The VISP is an online tool that will directly and anonymously connect struggling veterinary professionals with both peer counselors and resources, all under the supervision of mental health professionals. We’re starting this program in concert with the Veterinary Social Work program out of the University of Tennessee as well as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and we’re really excited about it. We’re finally able to bring together peer support, mental health professionals and a validated robust tool from a leader in the field of suicide prevention. We hope that this will be a game changer for our communities.
If you would like to know more about NOMV, please check out our website at nomv.org.