Maintaining Your Sanity in Vet Med: 10 Ways to Prioritize Veterinary Mental Health

Veterinary Mental Health Blog

There’s the saying:

"If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life."

And if you’re a veterinary professional, you’re either rolling your eyes or laughing hysterically right now. Because for us, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Working in veterinary medicine is tough, regardless of your job title. There are issues at a systemic level that contribute to the hardships we face, like high turnover rates, understaffing issues, and low wages. 

But there are additional challenges, like navigating hostile clients and dealing with compassion fatigue, empathy overload, and moral distress that can also contribute to the mental health challenges that many veterinary professionals face including burnout, depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation. 

According to studies from the Center for Disease Control, one in six veterinarians have considered suicide, and the rate of suicide for veterinary professionals is 4 times the rate of the general public.

If you work in veterinary medicine, these statistics might not surprise you. Whether you’ve faced your own struggles or known someone who has, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. While there are issues that need to be changed at a systemic level, here are ten things you can do to care for your mental health as a veterinary professional.

Veterinary Mental Health

1. Recognize the signs of burnout

Burnout is more than just a bad day at the clinic. Burnout is the result of prolonged and excessive stress, and may present itself in symptoms like:

  • feeling emotionally exhausted and drained
  • becoming cynical or detached from work
  • feeling less effective or motivated at work

Or as physical symptoms such as:

  • frequent headaches
  • muscle tension
  • nausea or stomach issues 

By knowing the symptoms of burnout, especially the ones you are most prone to experiencing, you can identify when you are dealing with the early stages of burnout and take a break or get help, rather than waiting until you are experiencing an extreme level of burnout and feeling completely overwhelmed. 

Knowing the symptoms of burnout will also help you recognize burnout in others, which is especially important if you work in management. When one person on the team is burnt out, the rest of the team is going to feel it so it's important to recognize the signs before they start to worsen. 

Signs that you or a co-worker / loved one may be approaching burnout include:

  • Increased feelings of irritability or annoyance 
  • Decreased patience
  • Procrastinating or avoiding work
  • Feeling overwhelmed by even small requests

These symptoms may seem small at first but overtime they can snowball and result in burnout or lead to depression. While burnout can typically be prevented and managed with self care, it’s important to seek professional help if you are dealing with symptoms of depression or other serious mental health issues like suicide ideation. Click here to learn more about recognizing the difference between burnout and depression in veterinary professionals. 

2. Stress management skills

Stress is an inevitable part of life AND veterinary medicine. We face difficult cases with high stakes and our patients aren’t always the most cooperative (I’m looking at you spicy purritos). But that doesn’t mean we should feel stressed out all of the time. Stress plays a huge role in the state of our overall health, including mental health, so it’s important for veterinary professionals to learn healthy ways to manage their stress and to find what works best for them.

Some stress management options include going to therapy, practicing mindfulness, deep breathing, or movement like yoga or running. But maybe for you it’s something more personal like journaling, cooking your favorite meal, or taking a relaxing bath. Whatever it is, try to find ways to incorporate it into your daily routine or turn it into a daily habit. Just like with burnout, you don’t want to wait until you’re feeling extremely stressed out to take action — catch it at a 5 so you don’t end up at a 10.

Journaling is a great way to relieve stress and practice mindfulness. Looking for a wellness journal specifically made for veterinary professionals? You’ve found it! Check out our best-selling Vet Med Wellness Journal.

Click here to see it in action on TikTok.

3. Practice self care

Self care is more than treats and pampering; self care is any intentional act you take to care for your physical, emotional, or mental health. And taking care of your physical and emotional health is an essential part of caring for your self and your mental health. It’s important for your physical health that you’re getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, drinking plenty of water, and moving your body daily but it’s equally as important that you are caring for your emotional health and engaging with the things that you love and enjoy like listening to music, reading, spending time with family / friends, etc.

Make self-care a habit or part of your daily routine and set yourself up for success by making it easy to care for your physical and emotional health. For example, you're more likely to drink water if you have a water bottle around, so make it a habit to carry your favorite water bottle wherever you go. On the other hand, you're a lot less likely to work out everyday if you absolutely hate going to the gym. So instead of going to the gym, choose an activity like walking around your neighborhood or a home workout video on YouTube that you enjoy doing. The key is to make self care easy and enjoyable so you are more likely to actually do it. 

4. Take time to laugh

You've probably heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine”, and that isn’t too far off. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which can reduce stress and anxiety. Studies have also shown that laughter can relax the body, boost the immune system, protect the heart, and may even help you live longer. Laughter also helps you relax and recharge, allowing you to stay focused and accomplish more. And especially important, laughter can provide a momentary break from the challenges and difficulties that we face in this field.

And laughter is best shared! So send that funny meme or TikTok to your co-worker and share a laugh or two. It's good for you!

PS: looking for a simple + fun way to infuse more laughs into your day — check out our collection of funny and sassy stickers! Shop all stickers here.

5. Build a supportive network in-person or online

Building and maintaining supportive relationships in your life is important. When times get tough, having people in your life that you can talk to and lean on for support, like friends, family, co-workers, or even friends you meet online, can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. This is so important for our overall mental health and the quality of our lives.

Without a supportive network it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one dealing with the problems you’re experiencing, but opening up to others can help you get validation and support for your feelings and may also help you learn new perspectives on your situation. Sometimes all we need is a phone call with that person who gets us or gets it to make us feel like everything is going to be okay.

And if you don't feel like you have a supportive network right now, we invite you to join ours. Follow us on Instagram or TikTok and be sure to also check out some of our favorite veterinary accounts on Instagram like: @not_another_vet_nurse and @veterinary_wellbeing.

Wellness Workshops for Veterinary Mental Health

You can also connect with and learn from other veterinary professionals monthly at our virtual wellness workshops on Instagram and TikTok. Each month we host a live workshop that includes special guests, activities to help de-stress, and chances to connect with us and others in this community.

Past workshops have included goal planning sessions, tips on negotiations in the workplace, yoga for veterinary professionals, crafts like embroidery and coloring, and fundraisers for causes that support the humans of vet med. You can find the replays on Instagram @love.huvet.

(PS -- did you know that's where the name Love Huvet comes from? Love for the Humans of Vet Med. Learn more about our story here.)

6. Build a supportive work environment / work culture

If you work in management, listen up. Building a supportive work environment and company culture is not only crucial to your employees’ mental health but also their productivity, company loyalty, and job effectiveness. So building a supportive work environment is a win-win for both employees and clinics and is crucial to making changes in the high-turnover rates for veterinary professionals. 

What makes a supportive work environment? A supportive work environment is built on four important principles: communication, appreciation, flexibility, and relationships. Examples of this may look like having open lines of communication for staff to voice concerns, showing appreciation for staff (more than just a yearly pizza party), allowing for flexibility around scheduling, and building a culture of teamwork around the office. But most of all -- a supportive work environment require that everyone feels seen, heard, respected, and valued as part of the team.

Not in management? We have a saying at Love Huvet: Be the Change You Wish to See in Vet Med. While we don’t encourage you to be a martyr for your clinic (especially if you’re the only one trying to fix a less-than-supportive culture), you may be surprised at how much change you can inspire by being a communicative teammate, showing appreciation to your co-workers, being flexible, and building closer relationships.

7. Set boundaries

Many of us worry that setting boundaries will ruin our relationships or make us look like the bad guy but setting clear boundaries and communicating them effectively can actually strengthen our relationships with others and ourselves. Setting boundaries at work can help you avoid misunderstandings, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and promote a positive work environment. When everyone is on the same page, it's easier for things to run smoothly. 

You may also need to set boundaries with your friends and family around what you're willing to share about your cases or the advice you're willing to give about their pets. 

We all have that one friend or long lost cousin who sends messages out of the blue explaining the laundry list of symptoms Fluffy is experiencing and asking for a diagnosis and treatment plan. It can feel awkward at first but would you rather set your boundaries once or explain for the 100th time this year that they should definitely go see their vet? 

We also recommend grabbing this "No Questions About Your Pet" t-shirt to wear to family functions or hang-outs with those people in your life who need the reminder.

Setting and respecting our boundaries helps build self-respect, encourages personal growth, and contributes to leading a positive and fulfilling life. And although it’s best to set your boundaries from the start, it’s never too late AND your boundaries are allowed to change. Just remember to communicate your boundaries as they change so that the people in your life are on the same page. And if your boundaries are being pushed or crossed, it's time to speak up.

8. Advocate for Yourself

Advocating for yourself comes in many forms. You might need to advocate for yourself if your boundaries are being crossed or if you’re being treated unfairly at work. But advocating for yourself at work can also look like asking for help or putting yourself in the running for an opportunity you want. Advocating for your professional growth is just as important.

Not sure where to start with advocating for your growth? The best way to advocate for yourself is to get really clear about what you want and need. Without this, you could be advocating for things that won't serve you and asking for the wrong things entirely. Start by setting goals for where you want to be in the year, two years, five years... and then assess what changes and actions you would need to make those goals happen.

Additionally, when advocating for yourself it can be helpful to share how the changes you’re advocating for can benefit the whole (not just explain how they will benefit you). This can help other people see the bigger picture and positive changes that can occur as a result of whatever changes you're advocating for. 

Looking for tips on advocating for yourself at work? Check out @negotiatethis on Instagram or at

9. Know When It’s Time to Move On

Sometimes the best thing we can do for our mental health is know when it’s time to move on from our current situation. For some that could mean moving on from their clinic or speciality but for others it could mean leaving the field of veterinary medicine entirely. 

It can be really hard to say goodbye to a path that many of us have dreamed about pursuing since we were young and it can bring up feelings of failure or self-doubt. But choosing to do what’s right for you doesn’t make you a failure. There are a lot of changes that need to happen in our field to make it a healthy environment for everyone. And you have to do what’s best for you and your mental health.

If you’re not ready to leave vet med but you know you need a change, you have options. You could find a new clinic. We recommmend checking out Hound to find veterinary employment opportunities near you. 

Or you may choose to transition to a new specialty (maybe it’s time to leave the ER for a shelter, for example).

But if you’re a veterinarian or vet tech interested in traveling, you can also try out relief work. Check out Relief Rover for more information and helpful resources for relief vets + techs. 

(Reading this BEFORE 2/28 then be sure to join us at this month's workshop featuring Relief Rover. We'll be live on Instagram and TikTok Feb 27 at 5 PM EST with the CEO and founder of Relief Rover to talk all things relief work and how Relief Rover can help you find jobs and more. We hope to see you there.)

10. Seek Help

If you’re struggling with your mental health and experiencing signs of depression, anxiety, or suicide ideation, it’s important to seek help. Remember you don’t have to face this alone and there are options available to help you feel better. Check out the resources below.

Find a Therapist: Check out BetterHelp, the world’s largest online therapy service or talk with your clinic to learn about resources that may be available for you.

AVMA Wellness Page: Resources on cyberbullying, online reputation management as well as workplace wellness programs and crisis hotlines.

Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 988 or online chat

SAMHSA: Call 1-800-662-4357

Veterinary Mental Health is Important

Caring for your mental health as a veterinary professional is essential to ensure that you can provide the best care possible to your patients and have a long career in veterinary medicine. It's normal to experience stress and burnout in this field, but there are resources available to help you manage stress and prevent burnout. Whether it's seeking support from colleagues or loved ones, practicing self-care, or seeking professional help, taking care of your mental health should always be a top priority. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and there is no shame in seeking help. 

When you prioritize caring for your mental health, everyone wins.

Interested in supporting mental health for veterinary professionals?

May is Mental Health Month and we’ve teamed up with Not Another Vet Nurse for their 2nd annual fundraiser, Miles for Mental Health. 

Miles for Mental Health is a fitness fundraiser to help veterinary professionals afford mental health care. This includes but not limited to counseling sessions, medications, or hospital stays for mental health related incidents.

You can sign up or donate to the cause by purchasing our exclusive Veterinary Mental Health Month t-shirt (100% of proceeds go to NAVN). After purchase you will be contacted via Charity Footprints to complete sign-up. 

Questions about the t-shirts? Reach out to us at

Questions about Miles for Mental Health, reach out to Shena at Not Another Vet Nurse on Instagram: click here.

Thank you for reading and we hope you found these ten tips helpful as you care for your mental health as a veterinary professional. We would love to hear from you on Instagram @love.huvet if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for future content you would like to see. Make sure to check out our shop for apparel, croc charms, stickers, and so much more!

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