Com­pas­sion fa­tigue a killer

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Jaime Shurmer

VET­ERI­NAR­I­ANS are nearly four times more likely to com­mit sui­cide, prompt­ing a study by Mur­doch Uni­ver­sity to find out why and fac­tors that can pro­tect them.

Com­pas­sion fa­tigue is po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing and care-giv­ing pro­fes­sion­als like vets, doc­tors, nurses and even den­tists are at risk.

Doc­tors and nurses are twice as likely to take their own lives than the gen­eral pub­lic.

Mur­doch Uni­ver­sity pro­vi­sional psy­chol­o­gist and PhD can­di­date Karen Con­nell is ask­ing vets to com­plete an anony­mous sur­vey to help her bet­ter un­der­stand their men­tal well­be­ing and their client and col­league re­la­tion­ships.

She en­cour­aged all vets, in­clud­ing those who feel they are cop­ing well, to par­tic­i­pate.

Cock­burn wildlife res­cue ser­vice Na­tiveARC runs three free work­shops a year for hun­dreds of its vol­un­teers and oth­ers work­ing or vol­un­teer­ing in car­ing pro­fes­sions.

Na­tiveARC man­ager Dean Hux­ley said he started the Self Care for An­i­mal Care Givers work­shops three years ago, spon­sored by the Ro­tary Club of Boor­a­goon.

“For us, be­ing a not-for­profit we take on a lot of vol­un­teers,” Mr Hux­ley said.

“If we don’t look af­ter the vol­un­teers, we can’t look af­ter the an­i­mals.”

Af­ter a decade in the in­dus­try he felt there was a lack of train­ing in the field and worked with vets and coun­sel­lors to de­vise the work­shops.

Mr Hux­ley en­cour­aged peo­ple work­ing in an­i­mal care to at­tend a fo­rum be­fore they started to de­velop burnout.

“For any­one in a care-giv­ing pro­fes­sion, there is not one thing that will work for ev­ery­one, so peo­ple must do their re­search.”

Mur­doch Uni’s Col­lege of Ve­teri­nary Medicine prin­ci­pal Peter Ir­win said the cur­ricu­lum in­cluded pos­i­tive psy­chol­ogy and mind­ful­ness, re­silience, and the man­age­ment of risks to health and well­be­ing.

Prof Ir­win also said a key goal of the in­ter­na­tional VetSet2Go project, which Mur­doch’s vet school is lead­ing, in­cludes the pro­mo­tion of well­be­ing and re­silience among new vets.

The sur­vey is at prac­ti­tion­er­men­tal­

Visit www.try­book­ing. com/OHMB for fo­rum de­tails.

Any­one in cri­sis should speak to their GP or call Life­line on 13 11 14.

Picture: Will Rus­sell

Na­tiveARC man­ager Dean Hux­ley at the cen­tre. d468330

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