FourFour2 has obtained data from the National Veterinary Association of Australia (NVAA) which shows that a third of Australian veterinary assistants have experienced at least one of the three main types of PTSD-related symptoms.
The NVAA survey, conducted in late 2018 and early 2019, found that 38 per cent of veterinarians said they had experienced PTSD-like symptoms during their time as a vet.
The survey also found that more than half of vets reported having at least two of the symptoms.
In 2016, the NVAA reported that the suicide rate among vets was about 14 per cent.
The number of vets who had PTSD-style symptoms doubled over the past three years to more than 2,500, according to the NVSA.
More: The NVSA said in a statement that the results were based on responses to a survey of more than 3,000 veterinary assistants across Australia in 2018 and 2019.
“Veterinarians reported that their PTSD symptoms included feelings of anxiety, confusion, guilt, helplessness, fear, isolation and social isolation,” it said.
“While they generally reported no symptoms, some reported significant distress, such as experiencing difficulty sleeping, feeling unable to focus or perform tasks, and feeling overwhelmed by anxiety.”
The NVPA said it was “deeply concerned” by the data and called on Australian government to take action.
“The Australian Government needs to ensure that the mental health needs of vets are prioritised and funded to the maximum extent possible,” the NVPA’s statement said.
In September 2019, the Queensland government announced it would spend $5 million to hire 20 additional mental health support staff to provide mental health and wellbeing services to vets in rural communities.
The state government also announced the introduction of an online platform to provide advice on mental health issues.
“This is a matter for the Queensland Government, not the NVDA,” NVPA national president Peter Staley said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the department did not comment on the NVWA survey.
The Victorian Government said it had been working with the NVZA to provide training and support for staff in rural and remote areas.