To prevent suicides, Banfield wants veterinary professionals to ASK

September 17, 2019
dvm360, dvm360 October 2019, Volume 50, Issue 10

New campaign to help colleagues assess, support, know is designed specifically for veterinarians and team members; company will offer training to entire profession by January 2020.

During its annual Pet Healthcare Industry Summit in Portland, Oregon-and in conjunction with National Suicide Prevention Month-Banfield Pet Hospital announced a new program called “ASK” (assess, support, know), designed to help veterinary professionals recognize and address emotional distress and suicidal thoughts in themselves and others.

According to CDC research released earlier this year, female veterinarians are 3.5 times as likely as the general U.S. population to die by suicide, and male veterinarians are 2.1 times as likely. Earlier studies indicate that one in six veterinarians experiences suicidal ideation, while one in 10 suffers from severe psychological distress.

In observance of that “one-in-six” statistic, Banfield says it will do the following by Jan. 6, 2020: 

Close all Banfield hospitals nationwide for two hours to conduct mental health and wellbeing training for its hospital associates.

Make the ASK training available as a free resource for the entire veterinary profession.

Share the ASK training with all U.S. veterinary colleges.

“This is a $3 million investment for Banfield,” said Molly McAlister, DVM, MPH, Banfield's chief medical officer, during the summit on Sept. 12. “I think everyone knows we are passionate about pets-that's a given. But now it's time to make equally sure we are passionate about people.”

The ASK program, which is designed to help veterinarians and their teams recognize when someone is in emotional distress and take the appropriate actions, is intended to complement suicide-prevention and wellbeing resources from the AVMA.

“We want to commend Banfield Pet Hospital on their continued focus on veterinary wellbeing, and we're excited as they develop additional tools to help veterinary professionals,” said John Howe, DVM, president of the AVMA, in a Banfield release. “Their investment towards health and wellbeing is a reflection of their commitment to their employees as well as the entire profession.”

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