Mental Health Awareness Month is observed in the United States of America every May since 1949. The awareness month was started by the “Mental Health America”. Every year, they plan and execute activities to raise the awareness of the importance of mental health among everybody. Every year, the select a different theme, and this year’s theme is “Fitness #4Mind4Body”.
This month people have the chance to learn more about the citizens suffering from depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and how to live with these disorders. They also draw attention to suicide and what leads to it.
Mental health in the veterinary profession is a question that should not be avoided. Being a veterinary professional is exciting and challenging, but at the same time can be very difficult and stressful. Several studies have shown that anxiety, stress, and depression are high among veterinary professionals.
Many people in the field suffer from something called “burnout” and “compassion fatigue”.
Burnout can be recognized as emotional exhaustion (constant tiredness and feeling overloaded), feeling frustrated regarding job-related activities (being cynical toward your colleagues and start being distant), and reduced performance (difficulty to concentrate or to be motivated about the task).
Compassion fatigue, on the other hand, is a “by-product” of years of helping others in need and in distress, which in some people leads to reduced empathy towards the future patients. Other symptoms may show as physical, such as headaches, lethargy, GIT issues, and of course negative thoughts and loss of hope.
The important lesson we have to learn is that it’s perfectly fine to ask for help. It doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist, it doesn’t have to be a medical professional, it can be your best friend, your mother, or a sibling. As long as you seek support and guidance, you’re one step closer to resolving the issue. Every person is different and unique. Some will recharge their batteries with a week-long vacation on an island, some just need a shoulder to cry, others may need to change profession.
At the end of the day, you’re the most important person in the room and you need to take care of yourself first before taking care of others.