Are Veterinarians Predisposed to Mental Illness?

Elizabeth B. Strand, PhD, LCSW, director of veterinary social work at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine College of Social Work, conducted her own research on mental health in the veterinary profession.
Published: June 23, 2018

Elizabeth B. Strand, PhD, LCSW, director of veterinary social work at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine College of Social Work, says that within her work she is often asked if veterinarians are predisposed to suffering from mental illness. This led her to conduct research on the topic using the concept from social science called “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs) — things that happen to children that put them more at-risk for mental illness, including suicide.  

Through her research Dr. Strand found: 
  • Veterinarians have the same rate of ACEs as the general population; 63% of Americans have at least one ACE. 
  • Veterinarians had a higher rate of having a family member who suffers from mental illness (31 percent) compared to the general population (10 percent). 


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