Orchard Vet's Blog

World Mental Health Day


The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year.

The theme of 2022's World Mental Health Day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is 'Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority'.

World Mental Health Day Logo

World Mental Health Day was observed for the first time on 10 October 1992. The day aims to raise awareness in the global community about critical mental health agendas to take action and to create lasting change.

World Mental Health Day celebrates awareness for the global community in an empathetic way, with a unifying voice, helping people feel hopeful by empowering them to take action and create lasting change.

Veterinary surgeons in the UK are three to four times more likely than the general population to die by suicide (Platt et al., 2010). The effect of suicide on families, friends and colleagues can be devastating. Every suicide is a tragedy, and for many people bereaved by suicide, the impact is long-lasting. There aren’t accurate figures for the suicide rate among veterinary nurses but there are some aspects of their work that suggest that they also may be at risk.

The stigma associated with mental illness often acts as a barrier to accessing care, including mental health services, and indeed stigma can increase people’s reluctance to even discuss the topic in the first place. According to the results of a 2012 study of veterinary surgeons with a history of suicidal thoughts or behaviour half of the participants had not talked with anyone about their problems because they felt guilty or ashamed.

In an effort to improve the mental health and well-being of those in the veterinary team – including vets, nurses, students and practice management - the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) launched the Mind Matters Initiative (MMI). Initiatives like MMI are working to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues with support from organisations such as Vetlife Health Support and Vetlife Helpline who are expanding to meet the increased demand for their free, independent and confidential mental health support.

Being a vet can be exciting and rewarding. However, caring for animals can be challenging, too – mentally as well as physically.

Several relate to the demands of the job itself, the long, often antisocial working hours, heavy workloads, poor work-life balance and difficult client relations, performance anxiety and feeling undervalued by senior staff as well as the need to regularly perform euthanasia also being an issue.

How can you help?

This World Mental Health Day you can join the cause by getting involved on social media, campaigning or even simply sharing your experience.