Research Suicide — 10 August 2017

pet-surgery-1_2386310Perth veterinarian Paul Davey is no stranger to the mental health problems that plague his profession.

The industry has a high suicide rate compared with the national average, and he remembers a colleague who took his own life the day before he was due to start work with Mr Davey.

 The co-owner of five clinics in WA has dedicated the past 20 years to improving veterinarian mental health and ran a graduate mentoring scheme for the Australian Veterinary Association.

“Members of our profession are being increasingly subjected to the pressures of time and client expectations,” Mr Davey said.

“Our suicide rate is four times higher than the national average due to the long hours and emotional trauma associated with the nature of our work.”

The 46-year-old credits a mental health check-in for helping him stay on top of his own wellbeing.

Known as Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-in, the survey of 3100 Australians aged 18 to 89 — almost half of them from WA — involved participants wearing Medibio devices that could objectively track their levels of depression and stress. It found 39 per cent had signs of depression and 37 per cent had symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Those aged 18 to 24 had the highest rates, while participants aged 45 to 54 had the lowest.

Mr Davey said he had done an earlier survey which suggested he was travelling well.

“But the second survey I completed suggested I needed to make some behavioural and lifestyle changes,” he said.

“As a result, I’m making a concerted effort to exercise more, use a mindfulness app, and adjust my work schedule to better accommodate for family time.”

Perth psychologist and creator of the check-in Peta Slocombe said nine out of 10 participants with symptoms of severe mental health illness were not receiving treatment.

“Yet of all the problems in the world that are unsolvable, mental health is not one of them,” she said.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

This piece by was first seen on ‘The West Australian’ 9 Aug 2017.

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