We all know about therapy animals — the adorable Fidos and Fluffies who bring comfort to people all over the world.
So you might think that the people who get to spend the most time with cute critters — such as veterinarians, shelter volunteers, and animal activists — would be happier than most.
But they are not!
A new study has found that folks who work with pets and other animals run a higher than average risk of depression, anxiety, and even suicide!
“People who work or volunteer with animals are often drawn to it because they see it as a personal calling,” explains Dr. Angela K. Fournier of Bemidji State University in Minnesota.
“However, they are faced with animal suffering and death on a routine basis — which can lead to burnout, compassion fatigue, and mental health issues!”
In addition, although having a pet has been shown to lower the heart rate and enhance positive feelings, a vet’s job comes with other pitfalls — such as dealing with the distrust of pet owners who question the cost of treatments.
“Well-being education should be integrated into the veterinary curriculum,” notes Katherine Goldberg, community consultation and intervention specialist at Cornell Health and founder of Whole Animal Veterinary Geriatrics and Palliative Care Services.
“Mindfulness, moral stress, ethics literacy, grief and bereavement, mental health first aid and s