Mental Health Awareness Resources

it’s Time to Talk about Mental Health in Veterinary Medicine

Mental Health Awareness Week

There are important reasons to start talking about mental health in the veterinary profession. Difficult to see, mental health issues, problems, and illness affect many people working in veterinary clinics. 

While one in five Canadian veterinarians and technologists have reported suicide ideation, burnout, and depression, most will be cautious about talking to a co-worker, friend, or family member about it. They are even less likely to adopt self-care strategies or seek professional help. And while some members of the veterinary profession may not experience mental illness first-hand, it is likely they know someone who has or will experience mental illness.

Stigma is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. Merck Animal Health and the CVMA are leading the way to start open and honest conversations about mental health in the veterinary community, help breakdown stigma, and create a community where members look out for and help one another. 

Each year, the CVMA and Merck Animal Health will kick off It’s time to talk about Mental Health in Veterinary Medicine Awareness Week in September. World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10, 2021.

The 2021 campaign will run from September 5 to 11, featuring another webinar held on Thursday, September 9.

We all deserve to be heard, to know that we are not alone, to feel worthy to look after ourselves, and feel empowered to keep each other safe from harm. 

CE Session: "Psychological Health & Safety" with Coral Doherty, RVT & Certified Psychological Health & Safety Advisor

Live Online Zoom Sessions

December 5, 2021

  • Part 1 Teams: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. (DVMs, RVTs, AHTs, TAs, CSRs, managers, or any other support staff)
  • Part 2 Leaders: 12:30 - 2:30 p.m. (managers, owners, any other team leaders)
  • Part 3 DVMs: 3 - 5 p.m. (DVMs only)

RSVP Deadline: Friday, December 3, 2021

2 CE credits/session approvedby: ABVMA & SVMA. Pending approval from CVBC.

These sessions will be recorded for on-demand viewing for four to six weeks following the live event.

If watching the recorded session, a short quiz must becompleted to receive CE credits.

Cost PER Session + GST:

  • Non-member vets $20
  • CAVM/EASAV members $0
  • RVTs & support staff $0
  • Students (vet or tech) $0

How to Register

Login to the Calgary Academy of Veterinary Medicine website
to register & pay. The Zoom link willbe emailed to you.

Be sure to indicate which session(s) you would like to register for.

Contact us if you need a username/password (you do not need to be a member):
Phone: 403-863-7160

Find more informaton here.

EASAV Peer Support Group - Open to Vets and Techs Across Canada!

The EASAV Peer Support Group meets meets virtually on the second Tuesday of every month, from 7-8 p.m. MDT on Zoom!
  • If you would like to attend anonymously, type anonymous vet or RVT as your name and turn your video off before joining!
  • The Edmonton Association of Small Animal Veterinarians’ Peer Support Group is now offering support to vets & RVTs, nationwide
  • Please share this information with any veterinary colleagues who may want to attend!
  • We offer a safe, empathetic, supportive and confidential space to talk and process what you might be going through.
  • The group meets virtually on the second Tuesday of every month. Our leadership team is made up of veterinarians & RVTs from across Canada.
  • Click here to learn more about the EASAV Peer Support Group!
  • This group will also meet on demand, if requested! If the timing of our usual meeting does not work for you, let us know when you want to meet and members of our team will host a meeting, just for youFor more informaton or to request a private meeting, contact us confidentially, at 
Click here for more information about the EASAV Peer Support Group and local mental health resources
If you need to reach a member of the team, call one of our support group members. 
Dr. Kathy Keil (Alberta) 1(587) 777-2342
Dr. Nancy Bruyère (Alberta): (780)674-1754
Dr. Leann Benedetti (Ontario): 1-705-791-5312 
Dr. Sally Cleland (Saskatchewan): 1-306-209-2924
Smokey Walters (AB RVT): (780)913-3789
Connie Varnhagen (AB RVT): (780) 903-5402
The EASAV Peer Support Group Team
** If you are having thoughts of suicide or are in a crisis and are looking for support, please call this Suicide Support number: 1-833-456-4566 (open 24 hours for calls) or text 45645 (between the hours of 4 - 12 a.m.).  The people on this line will connect you to your local crisis centre. **

After a Suicide: A Guide for Veterinary Workplaces

The suicide death of an employee can leave a veterinary workplace faced with grieving employees, clients and industry partners, media attention, and a community struggling to understand what happened and why. In this situation, a veterinary workplace needs reliable information, practical tools and guidance to help respond immediately, help the community heal, and return to their primary mission of caring for their patients and community. Read more here.

Toolkit for People who have been Impacted by a Suicide Loss

There is no right or wrong way to seek help. This toolkit is not designed to be an exhaustive list of the very wide variety of resources available across Canada for support. This toolkit is a summary of the tools that have resonated most with the hundreds of people who completed our online survey and resources from a literature review completed by the Centre for Suicide Prevention. 

If you are not finding the tools and resources that resonate most with you, you may consider talking with someone. You may wish to connect with a trained volunteer by contacting your local distress centre or Kids Help Phone.

Read more here.

Frequency, Stressfulness and Type of Ethically Challenging Situations Encountered by Veterinary Team Members During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Anne Quain from Australia has done some interesting research on ethically challenging situations (ECS) faced by veterinarians during the pandemic. She found that the median frequency of ECS encountered by respondents increased from several times per month to several times per week during the pandemic. Read full paper here.

Suicide Safety Stickers

It is critically important to focus suicide prevention at the level of pentobarbital access in veterinary clinics based on recent research that shows a strong link between veterinary suicide and access to pentobarbital.1 

Dr. Elizabeth Spitzer, a co-researcher on this study will be a guest speaker on the September 10, 2020 webinar in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day. The webinar will also launch the safety sticker. The sticker serves as an administrative safety control in the hierarchy of occupational health and safety controls. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety describe a hierarchy of controls2  for limiting exposure to occupational hazards.

In regard to pentobarbital in veterinary settings, it is not feasible or desirable to use elimination controls, which involve physically removing the hazard; substitution controls, which involve replacing the hazard; or engineering controls, which involve isolating people from the hazard. This means that administrative controls, which involve changing the way people work and interact with the drug safe and pentobarbital, is the most viable option for limiting pentobarbital access.

As such, a veterinarian who is in distress, having suicidal thoughts in the clinic and thinking about a means to kill oneself will hopefully see the sticker and hit the pause button to hinder the suicidal act. To help them move back from the precipice while ensuring they get compassionate help. There is no single winning solution to prevent suicides in veterinary profession. This is just one tactic, yet a very concrete one. Please download the sticker on adhesive paper and post in your clinic.

  • Choose printer setting “actual size” for a 3” by 5” sticker. 
  • Choose printer setting “fit” for 8” x 11” sticker.


  1. Witte, T. K., Spitzer, E. G., Edwards, N., Fowler, K. A., & Nett, R. J. (2019). Suicides and deaths of undetermined intent among veterinary professionals from 2003 through 2014. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 255(5), 595-608. 
  2. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety


  • View previous webinars here
  • Access more mental health resources in the right menu bar.