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MAYÂ 2017 ISSUE 01





4 IVSA SCOW Find out how IVSA tries to riase awareness on Mental & Physical health issues

IVSA'S POLICY PAPER Find out what IVSA thinks about the wellness of veterinary students

QUOTES FOR HAPPINESS A selection of quotes about life and happiness that will make you either smile or think

KNOWLEDGE = POWER Educate yourself by reading the suggested articles

18 STUDENT INITIATIVES Get inspired by initiatives from students all over the world This issue: NCSU and UC Davis, USA

15 EATING HEALTHY Look at the resources available to help you improve you eating habits + some of our tips!

Chair's note

What does ‘Mind over Matter’ really mean? We

predators and survive in the wilderness of

know - thanks to Wikipedia - that it was first

times. Today this kind of danger is less present

stated in the Geological Evidence of the

in our everyday life, but we still apply the same

Antiquity of Man by Sir Charles Lyell. In this

instinct to everyday problems without even

context, it was used to describe the evolution

noticing it. That's exactly when you realize that

of the human brain from the animal brain and

wellness is not a static acquired "bike-riding"

the birth of the stream of consciousness. It

skill but that it is a constant work and you have

describes that basically all the thoughts that

to want to know yourself and your needs. For

run through our conscious minds - about

me, mental and physical wellness is, above all,

everything we have ever seen, experienced or

an exercise of self-esteem, working for

said - has passed through this rational

yourself in order to feel better and live better.

experience where we prioritize our necessities

It's a sustainable path because you change

and change our environment to fulfill the paths

yourself through logic and reasoning and how

we've chosen. Wellness does not just change

you see and seize life. Thank you for reading

the overall process of consciousness, but it

our ‘Mind over Matter’, a project made possible

creates a balanced reason and certain

by the amazing editor of this Journal, Emma

inalienable truth that, when applied to

van Rooijen and all of our team at SCoW!

prioritizing your needs, will help you overcome certain issues in your life and feel less anxiety

Xavier Canavilhas

and stress. ‘Mind over matter’ poses another


evolution we have yet to finish; the animal-like anxiety that still lives deep within us which is this primary instinct that made us react to




Standing Committee on Wellness (SCOW)

In September 2014, IVSA was asked to deliver a presentation on 'Professional Wellness - from a Students' perspective' during the FAVA World Congress 2014 in Singapore. It was because of this request that IVSA became invested in the wellbeing of veterinary students as well as professionals. Shortly after, it became clear that there were many wellness issues among veterinary students worldwide.  After a few successfull projects, the 'Standing


Committee on Wellness' (SCOW) was formed during the 65th IVSA congress in Vienna. Xavier Canavilhas (IVSA Portugal) was elected as the Chair of SCOW for the year 2015-2016 and soon gathered three other enthusiastic IVSA members.


Since the formation of the Committee, SCOW has been busy setting up different projects. (see below) All these projects focuss either on raising awareness on the issues regarding the wellbeing of veterinary

Meet the SCOW Members

students as well as professional, or on educating students on how to improve their health. Being mentally as well as phyically healthy has proven to be a challenge for people involved in the world of veterinary medicine. The rate of individuals suffering from depression, anxiety and even committing suicide is higher than most other professions. After many

XAVIER CANAVILHAS from Lisbon, Portugal enjoys playing the piano and horses

international discussions during the IVSA congress and symposium, IVSA can only agree that it is a serious problem among veterinary students worldwide. It is time that we all speak up and stick up for our own wellbeing. Let this journal inspire you to do both, in your way.

SCOW Projects Lectures & Workshops - at IVSA events, international conferences other events Facebook Page - to raise awareness, promote projects and offer resources for students Informative leaflets & toolkit - for students to get

KELSEY LIBBE from Madison, WI, USA enjoys rock climbing, yoga and her 2 cats!

ROBINN TEOH from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia enjoys cooking and learning languages

inspiration on how to assist in raising awareness and promoting wellness in their schools Worldwide survey - to better understand the issues students are facing globally and to use the data to make a statement to external organizations Course on wellness - to inform students of the importance of living a healthy balanced life and how to implement it in their own lives and pay it forward.

EMMA VAN ROOIJEN from Utrecht, the Netherlands enjoys hiking, singing and playing piano





t is a warm and sunny afternoon at the start of the 2nd annual Health & Wellness Symposium at UC Davis on March 12, 2017. Runners who have just finished the “Dog n’ Jog” event, hosted by the Students for One Health Club, fill Gladys Valley Hall as they prepare to enjoy a day full of exercise classes, wellness activities, and self-reflection. There is an air of camaraderie among the attendees and an almost palpable appreciation for the importance of self-care. The symposium itself is a celebration of all of the hopes and ideals of the Vet Med Health & Wellness Club at UC Davis, and is one of the many events put forth yearly by our organization. The Vet Med Health & Wellness Club was founded three years ago by a group of dedicated student leaders in collaboration with the Career, Leadership, and Wellness (CLaW) Center at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM). In the short amount of time that it has been alive, the club has been successful in hosting a number of lunchtime and after-school activities including yoga, meditation, self-defense, and kickboxing classes. In addition, the club strives to increase awareness around depression and mental health issues in the veterinary community through lunch talks featuring incredible speakers such as Dr. Kimberly Pope, of 1 Life Connected Counseling, and Julia Squires, a compassion fatigue specialist.




There had been several factors leading up to the formation of the club. It is no secret that the veterinary profession suffers from higher amounts of stress, anxiety, and depression than the general population. In a national survey collected by the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA), 47.09% of veterinary students who responded reported a personal history of depression, anxiety, or substance abuse1. Additionally, more than a quarter of respondents indicated that they had faced periods of depression lasting longer than 2 weeks 1 – the defining period for clinical depression 2. Furthermore, the plight of the veterinary student is often complex and supported by a culture of “selfsacrifice” bolstered in many medical communities. Being admitted into and starting veterinary school is a milestone. For many students, it is a dream come true. When students first begin their journey, they are often filled with joy and great enthusiasm to absorb every bit of the lecture material, make lifelong friendships with their colleagues, and accomplish their dream. As the year goes on, they settle into new routines of exams and sleepless nights, and decide that all of the fatigue is worth it because it is part of “living the dream.” Students often possess the necessary scholarly skills required to succeed in veterinary school, but very few come in prepared with the emotional tools they need to preserve their emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing. The administration at UC Davis SVM has long recognized the need for increased resources for its students as well as a complete change to the veterinary curriculum. According to Dr. Jan Ilkiw, Associate Dean of Academic Programs at UC Davis, students would transform from “eager and excited to learn” individuals into “walking zombies” by the end of year 2. The administration and Dr. Ilkiw both shared a concern that students were not only becoming stressed and exhausted, but were not learning what they needed for their long-term careers. As a result, several important changes were made over the recent years including increased  

incorporation of wellness into the student curriculum, formation of the campus CLaW, and onboarding of a full-time psychologist available to all members of the SVM community. The hope is that these additional resources provide students with some of the coping skills they need to deal with the stress of working in veterinary medicine, Dr. Ilkiw explains. “Veterinary medicine will always be a rigorous program, but my aims with the curriculum [are] to promote deep learning, to help students see the applicability of what they [are] learning throughout the curriculum, to promote problem solving, and to keep them excited about learning and their careers,” explained Dr. Ilkiw. “While the curriculum is not perfect, students are less stressed than they were and I think we have achieved some of these goals.” Dr. Zachary Ward is a psychologist that has been with the SVM since 2011. He has since become the coordinator for the Mental Health and Wellness Programs at the school, and has been instrumental in supporting the Health and Wellness Club since its birth.To him, “the start of the club felt serendipitous…two students, independently of one another, came to the leadership in Student Programs expressing interest in starting a wellnessfocused group. It was their interest and their motivation that really brought this into fruition.” The club was founded by two students, Melissa Rothstein (2019) and Tereza Chylkova (2017) in early Spring 2015. Melissa was motivated by the anxiety she felt about the growing stress of her classmates and her desire to “keep everyone uplifted and having fun, while managing the stress and supporting each other.” At first, the club was intended to be a fun conduit for organizing activities such as lunchtime yoga sessions, group hikes, and water balloon fights. Very soon however, it grew into a beacon for like-minded individuals who wanted to join and spread the importance of wellness while in a professional program.



“I think the biggest positive outcome was the shift in culture around mental health and wellness,” explained Melissa. “It blew the doors open for people to share their stories, seek help, support each other, and engage with resources and activities. The upperclassmen that year commented on how different the atmosphere was.” In the club’s first year alone, it held countless lunchtime activities, events, and talks promoting mental, emotional, and physical wellness. The foundation and innovation of the club relied on the passion of the student leaders themselves, but also on the essential support of like-minded staff and faculty. The CLaW in particular has been incredibly supportive and collaborative with the club. The director of the CLaW, Janel Lang, explains that the essential purpose of the center is to “provide services to students in the areas of: career exploration and preparation, leadership development, and mental health and wellness.” The initiatives of the CLaW include counseling services, support groups, and mental health and wellness workshops. It has also served as a formal connection point for outside entities such as wellness speakers in the industry and other schools to communicate with the club. Collaboration between students and staff sustains the Health and Wellness Club, and allows it to invoke a program that promotes self-care. The Vet Med Health and Wellness club quickly grew to become the biggest student organization on campus, and a new challenge came along with that - organizing a massive movement so that it could remain sustainable. When she first joined the club, current Club President Roxana Bordar explained that she saw the club doing a lot of good for many individuals, but the responsibility of running the club was falling into too few hands.  “In order to serve the student body to the best of our abilities, we needed to come together and be more cohesive and structured,” Roxana explained. “With the second year of this club up and running, one thing we decided to do to help with our organization was to hold monthly officer meetings to keep ourselves cohesive and organized and also keep each other in the loop about the various tasks each officer was working on. I think this has helped us immensely on both a logistical level and a personal level -- we are all so busy but having that monthly interaction really keeps us close and bonded so that we feel comfortable discussing any issues or challenges and we simply work better together as a team.”

Officer positions were created with specific tasks in order to reduce confusion and increase productivity. The culture of the Health & Wellness club officer team is not totally didactic however. Officers are encouraged to pick up any task/ project that interests them and ask for help whenever they need it. President-Elect Ashley Walker explains that preserving the personal wellness of every officer is key to sustaining the passion and fuel necessary to drive the club forward. “Sometimes it is hard to balance our academic workload alongside duties for the club.” Ashley says. “I try to remind myself to be a role model for one of the main messages we support – “it’s okay not be able to do it all, make your mental and physical health a priority and ask for help!” Furthermore, the club strives to maintain its original purpose of creating a self-sustaining community of individuals who care about wellness. Students and faculty members are encouraged to present their ideas for new activities or projects at officer meetings. Then, the officer team acts as a scaffold and provides them with the resources and advertising outlet that they need to get their programs off the ground. In this way, the activities are connected to the Health & Wellness club, but they are still owned by members of the SVM community. This simple act underscores the importance of wellness of veterinary medicine. Allowing individuals to engage in a wellness activity is not purely about the activity, but rather, the real benefit is giving people the space and permission to focus on self-care.



One such activity that has operated on this principle and has also created a comfortable space for residents, faculty, and students to interact is “Student-Faculty Yoga.” The event is a professionally-led yoga session held once a month on campus with space for 30-35 people. Sessions are typically an hour long and the club has invested in yoga mats so that even newcomers to yoga can be included. According to President-Elect Rebecca Radisic, these classes have been integral to bridging the gap between students and faculty and bringing health and wellness to forefront of both populations in the veterinary community.

As the club wraps up its third year, the officer team celebrates the cultural impacts it has made and strives to reach new horizons in wellness. In the past year alone, the club has been able to communicate and collaborate with other schools and organizations such as the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA) and SAVMA. Additionally, several members of the club, Dr. Ward, and Janel Lang were able to travel to the 2016 AAVMC Health & Wellness Summit this past November, and present some of the club’s initiatives to students and faculty members from other veterinary schools.

Other important events/activities that the club has held include Suicide Prevention Week (with various activities held throughout the week), Wake up For Wellness breakfasts, Wellness Wagons after exams, and the annual Health & Wellness Symposium. Most notably, two campaigns, Each Aggie Matters and Post-Secret, have been instrumental in deconstructing the stigma surrounding mental illness on campus. Each Aggie Matters is a two-part event that involves a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ward in conjunction with a pledge-writing campaign. The panel discussion featured both students and high-profile faculty such as Dean Michael Lairmore describing their own battles and experiences with anxiety, depression, or mental illnesses. Next, students are encouraged to write their own story or submit a pledge promising to take care of themselves and their community. PostSecret allows students to write a “secret” about themselves on a index card and submit it anonymously. The index cards are then posted on a wall in a public space at the vet school for all of the “secret stressors” to be seen. Individuals then have the opportunity to respond to the secrets by writing words of encouragement and empathy on post-it-notes. Both of these events are held annually in hopes of increasing awareness regarding anxiety and depression, creating normalcy, and providing an entrance point for discussion.

However, keeping the momentum going as new classes enter the program and building a sustainable culture will be the biggest challenge of keeping this movement alive, according to Dr. Ward. His dream for the club is “to ensure that each incoming class values the principles that this organization stands for,” and for the club to continue to “to infuse mental health and wellness concepts and programs into the DNA of vet school culture.” The more student and faculty involvement that the club fosters, the more successful this goal will be, he explains. President-Elect Rebecca Radisic is hopeful about the impact that the club can have in its next few years. The Vet Med Health and Wellness Club not only provides students with skills that are necessary in their future lives as veterinary professionals, but also serves as a reminder to the SVM community about the importance of self-care. “With the current mental health climate in the veterinary field, I think having a club like this attacks the issues of mental health head [on] first and gives students reminders of their self-worth and importance,” Rebecca explains. “Our current students are the future of veterinary medicine, so I see this club as being a flagship and marker of progress and change toward mental health awareness in the veterinary field.”


1. SAVMA Wellness Taskforce. "Wellness Survey." Student American Veterinary Medical Association. N.p., 4 Apr. 2016. Web. s.pdf?token=dnWi%2BFBKrCiaLgKSoKQMV4F21qg%3D   2. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2013. Print.





makes veterinary students soÂ









SAVMA - IT' S OKAY The 'Student American Veterinary Medical Association' (SAVMA) launched the 'It's Okay' video series. Vet students as well as professionals share their experiences and struggles in the videos. SAVMA hopes that this will give other students the strength to talk about their issues as well

TEDtalk - stay calm Listen to Daniel Levitin talk about tips and tricks to stay calm when you know you will be in a stressful situation.. or many of the other helpful TEDtalks!

CLICK HERE to watch

CLICK HERE to watch

Love Yourself! The 'School of Life' channel on Youtube has many videos with important life lessons and how to stick to them. Try this one, teaching you how to focus on loving yourself  - an important part of being happy!

CLICK HERE to watch



IVSA'S POLICY PAPER IVSA has drafted a Policy Paper on Veterinary Student Medical Wellness that was approved by the General Assembly of the IVSA congress 2016 in Vienna, Austria Students in medical programs across the globe face great difficulties incorporating wellness into their daily routine. Veterinary medical students are especially faced with continuous challenges that deny them the ability to lead mentally and physically healthy lives due to the rigorousness of the veterinary program. These wellness issues negatively affect students personally, academically, interpersonally and in a multitude of other ways by increasing stress, anxiety and depression. Numerous studies show that suicide rates within veterinary medical students are higher than other individuals of similar age and degree programs. (3) The serious nature of this topic has led to the development of a policy paper by the International Veterinary Students’ Association (IVSA) meant to highlight the stressors that negatively impact veterinary medical students and the different ways that universities can address these issues within their specific programs. Stress is defined as the relationship between an environment and a person who perceives his or her surroundings as having the potential to tax or endanger his or her well-being. (2) The Merriam-Webster dictionary explores this interpretation deeper to define stress in relation to physical wellbeing as, “a physical, chemical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation”. (4) Stress does not only cause instability and discomfort for a student in the moment of anxiety, but it can cause additional long-term negative consequences on the individual’s health, both mentally and physically.

Stress can be associated with attention and concentration problems, illness, depression,anxiety, reduced academic success, increased absences due to sickness and increased unhealthy behaviors; including inappropriate diets, smoking, and poor sleep habits.(2) The goal of IVSA’s Policy Paper on Student Wellness is to increase awareness of student mental health issues within the veterinary medical field and offer suggestions to improve student health and well-being. IVSA recognizes that there is an insufficient amount of research and investigation devoted to veterinary medical student wellness. The few studies that have been published on the topic were used to assist in the writing of this policy paper. Veterinary medical students have been shown to have dramatically higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress than individuals in similar educational programs, not just as compared to the general population. One report in the United States shows that 32% of first-year veterinary medical students exhibited clinical signs of depression and high anxiety.1 The study additionally compares this rate to human medical students and demonstrates a significantly lower rate of clinical depression, found to be 14.3%.1 This contrast between veterinary and human medical students is important because it represents the generalized volume of mental health issues that veterinary medical students suffer from, as compared to students in similar programs. This information supports the need for more exploration of wellness issues in the veterinary medical field, both locally and internationally.



One study notes that, "Preliminary findings indicate that veterinarians have higher rates of death by suicide compared to the general population in several countries, including the US, the UK, Scotland, Wales and Australia".(1) The inclusion of other countries, albeit similar nations, highlights the problem as being a unified global issue within the veterinary profession. Due to the high levels of mental health issues in veterinary medicine, IVSA has dedicated itself to the implementation of support systems for veterinary medical students worldwide. There are various strategies that allow students to fare better against stress, anxiety and other challenges. Optimism, self-esteem and social support are factors that can build well-being and help individuals deal with stressful demands. (2) These attributes might not eliminate the stress in an individual’s life, but they can aid in his or her ability to handle that stress in a more positive manner. (2) The ability to understand coping mechanisms that may reduce the negative side effects of stress is important to the mental

character.2 Students that can share in a community of wellness-seekers are more likely to succeed long-term. IVSA values and considers the social aspects and repercussions of incorporating wellness into the lives of veterinary medical students. IVSA recognizes the current wellness problems that all veterinary medical students face, and believes that veterinary faculties should become more involved in assisting with the health needs of their students. IVSA recommends that veterinary medical schools determine which issues their students individually experience to allow for a maximal benefit of wellness implementation. For instance, the financial burden of attending university is an issue that significantly affects North American veterinary medical students, much more than those in other countries. Survey documents are added in the addendum of this policy that can assist schools in determining the most important issues affecting students in their program. Once a veterinary medical school pinpoints the major stressors for their students, the faculty can

It is common for students to be reluctant to get help for themselves in situations of anxiety because they see it as a weakness of character. wellness of veterinary medical students. Relaying this research to students and increasing social support systems is vital for remedying the negative effects of stress. It is common for students to be reluctant to get help for themselves in situations of anxiety because they see it as a weakness of

work to create solutions on these issues. IVSA encourages veterinary medical programs to have social work staff and psychologists present and available for their students. Additionally, IVSA recognizes the need for universities to adequately advertise these resources, allowing students sufficient


information about the mental health services that are present. The schools should encourage students to utilize these resources and view these resources as a strength, and not a weakness. IVSA also believes that taking time for self-care is a crucial aspect in student wellness. This self-care involves taking time for oneself and taking part in activities that are not veterinary-related. This might include drawing, writing, reading, cooking, exercising, etc… Universities should encourage students to take part in these types of activities in order to improve student wellness. Events may even be done at universities to give students the opportunities to take part in non-veterinary experiences while remaining on faculty grounds with their


community of peers. Lastly, fostering a positive environment in the veterinary medical school is vital for student morale. Increasing student self-esteem and optimism could aid in strengthening students’ ability to handle stress and anxiety. Tackling the incredibly high suicide rate of veterinarians at a student level will help young veterinarians establish a routine of wellness care that they can carry through the rest of their career. IVSA is committed to student wellness and strongly urges veterinary medical universities to take action in making positive changes aimed at addressing their students’ unique wellness needs.

WORKS CITED 1. Drake, Adryanna A. Siqueira, Mcarthur Hafen, Bonnie R. Rush, and Allison M.j. Reisbig. "Predictors of Anxiety and Depression in Veterinary Medicine Students: A Four-Year Cohort Examination." Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 39.4 (2012): 322-30. 2. Gardner, Dianne H., and Tim J. Parkinson. "Optimism, Self-Esteem, and Social Support as Mediators of the RElationships among Workload, Stress, and Well-Being in Veterinary Students." Journal of Veterinary Medical Education 43.2 (2016). 3. "Health and Wellness for Our Students – The Problems of Depression and Suicide." AAVMC (2012). 20only/deans2013/kinghealthwellnesssummary.pdf 4. Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary. Def: Stress.



START EATING HEALTHIER NOW! As a student, it can be a challenge to eat healthy because it is hard to make time and money available to make healthy meals. Let us help you! Here are some blogs, helpful resources and some tips of course!

What is easier than a breakfast smoothie? Greatest thing about it, you can easily make your smoothie the evening before and just keep it in the fridge.

Which meal do all students struggle with? That’s right, breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (we’ve all heard our parents say it plenty of time). So here are some websites and blogs to help you eat a healthy breakfast everyday!



Some of these tips are great, some are more focussed on American students. I can definitely recommend nr 3, 10, 7, 15, 19, 24 and 26 of course.


The title says it all: Student Survival Guide to Healthy Eating. It covers every meal from breakfast to late night snacks. Now you have no more excuse for skipping breakfast, eating fast food or stocking up on candy while you’re studying.


Some blogs that talk about healthy eating clearly forgot to consider that most students don’t have a lot of money to spend on food. Here are some tips to spend less money while trying to eat healthy.




HERE ARE SOME TIPS: We've created a list of (easy) tips that will help you to start eating healthier Don’t drink your calories - Too much sugar is unhealthy and will make you tired throughout the day. The easiest way to cut back on sugar is to stop drinking it. Don’t drink sodas and watch out with alcohol and juices. If you drink alcohol, red wine is the lowest on sugar. Ladies, those gin&tonics and margharitas are sugar-bombs. Guys, they don’t call it a beer-belly for nothing... Drink more water & tea Buy a good water bottle and take it with you wherever you go - You will drink water if there is a filled water bottle in front of you. If you finish your bottle twice a day, you’re on the right track! Find a water bottle you like and make it your new BFF. Never go shopping when you’re HANGRY - If you go shopping or to a restaurant when you’re hangry you will, first of all you'll eat to much and second of all eat too unhealthy. Trust me, you really didn’t need that extra large pizza with a milkshake and a chocolate brownie if you would’ve eaten an hour before you turned hangry. Put healthy snacks in your bag - By taking fruits and (healthy!) granola/power bars with you, you prevent yourself from buying that Snickers bar of bag of chips between lunch and dinner because you’re craving a snack. Frozen fruit and veggies are the best invention ever - Frozen fruit and veggies are not only cheaper, you can also store them longer. This way you prevent having to chuck away all your good intentions when you bought those fresh veggies PEANUT butter - Peanut butter goes with everything but is a healthy enough snack. You can eat it on toast, with oats, in smoothies but also with celery! Make sure you buy good quality plain peanut butter so it isn’t stashed with sugar and sweeteners. Make them lunch boxes -Pre-making food either for breakfast or lunch will save you time in the morning and will make sure you actually bring food to the university or work everyday. There are great salad, oatmeal, smoothie, egg, banana bread and burrito recipes for example.. Shop less often and go to cheaper stores - Try to do your groceries at bigger but cheaper stores like the Liddl and Aldi or even go to stores where you can buy in bulk. These stores might be a bit further so go there once a week and try to buy most of the food you need for the week. Look on pinterest for healthy recipes to find new recipes everyday - Next time when you’re bored on a bus or a train or waiting in line, scroll through pinterest or one of those healthy lifestyle blogs Just try! If you always try to eat healthy, you’re doing the right thing. Everyone messes up, the chocolate-lover speaking here, but that is okay. As long as you are informed, you’re aware of what healthy eating habits are and you’re trying to eat healthy and balanced meals, you’re doing great.



BEASTS, UNBURDENED "Our mission is to encourage fellow veterinary students to take care of themselves and others, encourage each other to break down barriers to open and honest communication, and to build a strong community of mutual support and caring. We will bear each others’ burdens and place high values on individuals, the reality of their concerns, and the sanctity of anonymity." Beasts, Unburdened is a website created for vet students. Through resources and a 'share your experience' page they are hoping to create an atmosphere where people will come to ask and look for help.  You can read other people's submissions or share your own experience, anonymously if you want..

Go check it out here!



STUDENT INITIATIVES By the SCAVMA Student Wellness Committee at North Carolina State University (NCSU), USA

The newly formed SCAVMA Student Wellness Committee at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine acts as an advocate for student wellness and offers opportunities to practice and learn wellness behaviors. Our mission is to foster emotional, social and physical wellness for all CVM students, faculty, and staff in order to build a community of resilient and interdependent veterinary professionals. One of the most significant programs our Wellness Committee has begun this past semester is our initiative known as “Wellness Wednesday.” On the Wednesday of every other week, we host health and wellness events on campus during the day for all students, faculty, and staff to enjoy. Our hope is that by providing activities for everyone to get involved in, we can help to change our school’s mindset to focus more on both physical and mental health. Below are some of the events we have hosted so far!

Lawn Games Day As our first event, we wanted to get people up and moving! We set up games like Giant Jenga, Corn hole, and Yardzee (giant sized Yhatzee) for everyone on campus to play throughout the day.



Art Day

Take What You Need

To get those artistic abilities flowing, we allowed our students, faculty, and staff to color on the giant jenga blocks, creating some wonderful masterpieces that will be seen for years to come on more Lawn Games Wellness Wednesday events!

We created a “Take What You Need” board covered in post-it notes filled with positive thoughts, quotes, and ideas that allowed people to literally take what they needed, or give to a friend. We then took a walk during the lunch hour to the JC Raulston Arboretum, located next to the CVM campus, to give everyone a bit of fresh air.

Chair Yoga Day One of our staff members is a certified yoga instructor and graciously offered to host a chair yoga session at the end of the day for students, faculty, and staff to enjoy. The topics covered included breathing techniques to de-stress during the day, stretching exercises for individuals who are sitting all day, and stretching exercises for individuals who are working on their feet all day.

Future Wellness Wednesday event ideas include: Dodgeball day, Guided meditation, Gardening day, Walk / Run with professors day, Health Fair / Spin-theWellness-Wheel, Field day celebration (games, bounce houses, dunk tank), coloring books, wellness wagons, chair massages. We would love to help other schools start Wellness Wednesday events on their campuses! For more information, ideas, and help feel free to reach out to Christine Crawford at or any of our Wellness Committee members at 



QUOTES FOR HAPPINESS “I’ve got nothing to do today but smile.” ~ Paul Simon “Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon” ~ Winnie the Pooh

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~ Aesop

“Success is not th e key to the key happine to succe ss. Happ s s. If you doing, y iness is love wh ou will b a t you ar e succes e sful.” ~ H erman C ain

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” ~ Dalai Lama

“T he ch yo be ee ur st r s se w l a ~ om f is y t M e o eigenraC elaD ar on to t ch k e r ~ ”.tuoba kniht uoy tahw si tI .yppahnu ro yppah Tw el y t eer uoy sekam taht gniod era uoy tahw ro ,era uoy ai se o n up erehw ro ,era uoy ohw ro ,evah uoy tahw t’nsi tI“ .”

niaC namreH ~ ”.lufsseccus eb lliw uoy ,gniod era uoy tahw evol uoy fI .sseccus ot yek eht si ssenippaH .ssenippah ot yek eht ton si sseccuS“

s r joy i u o y ile, times e m s m r o S u “ yo rce of mile u s o r s u e o y th times e your m f o o s e t c bu ur h he so t e b t Han a h can N Thich joy.” ~


“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.” ~ Dennis Waitley

“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.” ~ Marcel Pagnol



KNOWLEDGE = POWER Knowledge is a powerful tool and this is certainly true when it comes to selfcare. Knowing how to be healthy physically, how to be healthy mentally but most of all knowing when you are not or someone else is not healthy nor happy.

Five things you didn’t know about the mental health of veterinarians - by Marie Holowaychuk Dr. Holowaychuk discusses the results of a nationwide survey that was done in the USA to get better demographics on the mental health of veterinarians. In the five main conclusions she mentions that shockingly 1 in 3 veterinarians indicated that they have had depressive episodes in the past, combined with 17% of the veterinarians admitted to have had suicidal thoughts since graduation from vet school. To find out more, like the demographic characteristics (female, single, between 20-49 years old, etc.), read the full article here. READ IT


Work-Life Balance & Boundaries - by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) The AVMA offers all kinds of informative articles and resources to raise awareness and contribute to improving the wellness of veterinarians. This article talks about strategies you can implement to improve your Work-Life balances by focussing on reducing your time at work, making positive changes in workspace and workhabit and make the most of time outside work. They provide useful suggestions to apply the above mentioned strategies to your life. It also refers to a wellness check-list to track your mental and physical health.Â





Why do so many veterinarians commit suicide? - by Sy Montgomery The Boston Globe talks about the alarming rate of suicide and suicidal thoughts in veterinarians. Mr. Montgomery was shocked when he learnt that research in the USA showed that veterinarians suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses two to three times more often than the general population. This is supported by studies done in the UK that have shown that the suicide rate is double of those of dentists and doctors and even 4 to 6 times higher than the general population. As for the reasons, they talk about financial dept, misperception from the population, compassion fatigue and long working hours.



Research finds Veterinary Medicine Students Experience Higher Depression Levels Than Peers - by Jennifer Tidball Dr. Mac Hafen from Kansas State University has done research on the depression levels in veterinary students across the USA. The studies show that the depression levels in veterinary students are higher than other students, supporting the difference in depression levels between veterinarians and other professionals. Besides addressing the stress factors and causes for depression, the studies also discuss ways to improve the mental health of veterinary students.

read HERE !

9 Ways To Be Happy In A High-Stress World - by Rick Foster Rick Foster explains that happiness has been his field of study for over 15 years (who knew you could study that!). He strongly believes that being happy is a choice. Luckily for us, he describes nine practical choices you can make on a daily basis that will make you happier. So what can you do to be happier? Read all about intention to react, accountability, passions, recasting, opening up options, appreciation, giving and truth. Worth a read!





How to be happy - multiple articles All these articles talk about actions, choices and thoughts that will help you feel less depressed. These lessons may help you become a happier version of yourself. They discuss a few different topics but also have some in common: volunteer, communicate, eat healthy, sleep enough, exercise, spend time with friends and family and do things that you love. Find out more in one of these articles!





BRING ON THE PUPPIES! - multiple articles  All veterinary students will agree that (healthy) animals equal joy. These articles couldn’t agree with them more. It has shown in multiple studies that ‘Animal Assisted Therapy’ can be used as a therapy for depression. By petting and caring for animals your brain will release chemicals that will improve you wellness. Now you have that final convincing argument that will persuade your partner to get that puppy or kitten!



or even




WHY AND HOW TO EXERCISE Everyone knows that they should be physically active for at least 30 minutes per day. You can walk, cycle, run, play sports, go to the gym, you name it! However, most people don’t or can’t make time for it in their daily lives. We have lined up some helpful videos and tips that can help you achieve those 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

In each journal, we will dedicate a double page spread to a specific stress factor in the lives of veterinary students and veterinarians. These pages will provide you with specific articles, videos, podcasts and tips that can help you reduce your stress caused by these factors. This week we are focussing on stress due to not enough physical activity If you don’t exercise regularly, your muscles will get weak (obviously) but many vital organs will not function efficiently anymore either. Regular exercise is healthy because it:

reduces the risks many diseases like heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, arthritis, depression and diabetes. will release chemicals in your brain that will make you feel happier and more relaxed might make you more confident because of your improved mood and appearance will give you more energy. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system to work more efficiently. This will save energy which you can then use for your daily tasks. improves your posture, which will help prevent other injuries keeps your weight in control because you burn calories



Many people don’t realize that stretching is very important and should be a part of your daily exercise routine. Your muscles need to stay flexible to assist the range of motion in your joints. Without stretching, your muscles will actually become shorter and tighter, making it even harder to exercise and will increase the risk of injuries! You can either stretch after your work-out or you warm-up before stretching with light exercise (like a 10 minute walk)

WHAT EASY STEPS CAN YOU TAKE TO IMPROVE YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH? Turn chores into work: carry your groceries and walk home, do your cleaning chores faster and work up a sweat

Flex yo ur abs while s driving itting, or wait ing in l ine

Exer cise with a

STRETCH MORE! Ditch the scale! It will only demotivate you

grou p of

peop le

Do a few sit-ups, crunches, push ups before jumping in the shower every day

Take the long way: use the stairs, park further away from the store/your house, get off the bus a stop early, etc.



DESKERCISE Exams are coming up, you’re studying around the clock.. When you get up, you can feel your body is hurting, it’s stiff and it’s tense. While you’re studying, and sitting all day, it’s important to take a 3 minute break to stretch a bit. It will help you feel more relaxed and will help you concentrate better after stretching. Here are some deskercises you can do while studying!



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YOGA Yoga can help you relax and be more in tune with your body. But make no mistake, yoga can also be a work out. It will test your core muscles, it'll build strength in your legs, arms, back and neck. You would't be the first one to be sore the day after a yoga workout. Also, it's higly addictive. I dare you to try it! There are many yoga channels, but 'Yoga with Adriene' is a great one with lots of different types of videos.

30 days of yoga

7-minute yoga for stress relief

FULL BODY WORK OUT for beginners

FULL WORK OUT There are many different types of workouts, just pick one! Some you have to do by yourself; running, cycling, hiking, swimming, climbing. Others you can do with a team: soccer, football, hockey, basketbell, baseball, etc. Youtube can be very helpful for when you want to exercise but don't know what to do. Here you can find some links for all different types of videos: light workouts, workouts that will make you sweat, morning workouts, target area workouts and much more.


10-min of sweating

(High Intensity Interval Training)

Dance, dance, dance for beginners



OVC THRIVE AND THE FIRST LET’S THRIVE WEEK By Shannon Finn - a third year student at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Canada My name is Shannon Finn, I’m a third year veterinary student, and this past fall I founded the first student club for mental health and wellness at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Canada. The club is called “OVC THRIVE” and THRIVE stands for “Teaching Healthy Resilience in the Veterinary Environment,” and was built on 3 main goals: To promote an open and accepting culture surrounding mental health To encourage students to prioritize self-care To provide tangible resources for students to improve resilience My experience with seeing my classmates struggle helped me see the need for this club. OVC has been very good at recognizing that there is a problem with mental health in our field and at our school. I think everyone saw it as a problem simmering beneath the surface, and only witnessed it bubble up during high periods of stress when everyone is unable to keep their cool anymore. We also didn’t really have much in terms of a movement from the student level, and despite all the great advice and information coming from our administration, it wasn’t really sinking in with the students. This is why I think it’s so important to have coordinated efforts between students and administration, and to have something that is made by the students for the students.

students do), and so I reached out to the amazing students of Ross University and the UC Davis wellness clubs for input on what worked well for them! I also worked all summer for the newly formed research group at OVC – the AWAR2E team (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Research and Education), and all five members agreed to be faculty advisors for the club. One of the most helpful things I did at the beginning, was make connections with the existing campus resources. I would suggest this to anyone starting out! I don’t know if it’s like this at all schools, but at OVC, the veterinary college feels very “separate” from the rest of the University of Guelph, even though it’s just across the road. Once I had some details for THRIVE firmed up, I scheduled a meeting with the head of the University of Guelph’s Wellness Education Centre, and she was so instrumental with helping me find funding for activities and including me on some of the campus wide mental health committees. I’ve met so many awesome people because of this, and now the veterinary college is being more included in the discussion about mental health at our campus.

Once the school year came around, many students were aware that THRIVE existed – we made social media pages and created Wellness Carts (full of games and colouring and other fun things) that popped up around school. On Starting out was daunting! It’s a bit intimidating Club Days (2 days near the beginning of the to have a clean slate, and I wanted to do things year where students can sign up for clubs), I really well the first time around (as most type A set up my board and put a little “for free!” sign



indicating that there was no cost to sign up, and I was shocked that some people just avoided my table! I think this was the first time I really experienced the stigma about this topic. We did manage to get a fair amount of students sign up, and in the end it didn’t really matter too much because our events were made for everyone to participate in. Fast forward to November, and I had a really great executive committee put together. We had a few initial meetings and there was so much enthusiasm about possible events that we all took a breath at the end of one meeting and said “Maybe we should just make a THRIVE Week?” We reconvened, and then the next meeting we picked the date (the week of January 30th), picked our tentative schedule of events, and got to work making sponsorship proposals. We had a tight timeline of about 2 months to put everything together and raise funds, but it’s a true testament to the executive team that they felt we could do it (and do it well!) and put in the time to make it happen. The full schedule of events for Let’s THRIVE Week can be found on our Facebook page– I won’t go into detail about each event (I could go on for days!) but feel free to contact me if you have any questions about Let’s THRIVE Week that I don’t answer here ( I thought the best way to discuss this week was to go back to our 3 goals, and talk a bit about how certain events really helped us achieve those.


We wanted to provide all students with something they could physically take away and use, but we also wanted to make sure everything in Let’s THRIVE Week was free – so here’s a big thank you to OVC and OVC Pet Trust for giving us such generous sponsorship. I was put in contact with a Masters student from a nearby university who had created a mental health “first aid kit” startup company called PASS Inc. She had this amazing product in her kits, which are these flashcards that have “tweet-length” counselling advice (which were all evidence-based too!) as well as resource hotlines. We included these in our kits, as well as a card for LGBTQ+ specific, and University of Guelph specific

resources, a pen, and a pad of paper (see picture). We got sponsorship for kits for every DVM student and also the teaching hospital interns, and the executive put them all together. We have tests on Monday morning, and so we handed out these kits after the tests to all the students. They were extremely well-received! It was a great feeling to provide students with something that was actually useful. We also wanted to include the student clubs at OVC that had values similar to ours – that is, they try to improve student life outside of improving technical skills and knowledge about



veterinary medicine. These clubs included the OVC Christian Vet Fellowship, the OVC Business Club, and the OVC Student Chapter of the Lesbian and Gay Veterinary Medical Association (SCLGVMA). The SCLGVMA created the LGBTQ+ resource card for the kits, and all of the clubs, as well as the OVC Peer Helpers contributed really cool designs for buttons that we handed out at events. This was another thing that students could take and wear to display their support of Let’s THRIVE Week and mental health.

Encourage students to prioritize self-care Students know that self-care is important. The disconnect is the fact that we rarely actually do it. We tried to have good nurturing, stressrelieving events like Yoga, Paint Night, and Curling to incorporate some creativity, mindfulness and physical activity. These all had nothing to do with vet school – they were just fun! We got a really good turnout at all of them. My favourite event that we did to encourage self-care was the “I am Also” campaign. One of the things I learned from being involved in the academic mental health world this summer was that having diverse interests and taking the time to look at yourself and appreciate the parts of you outside of being in vet school is actually beneficial to mental health. So we made the “I am Also” wall and gave students nametags that they could write down something that they “are” that didn’t have to do with vet school! I put down “meme queen” and “funny” and “fan of The Bachelor” but it took me longer to think of those things than I’d like to admit! When I got people to contribute, SO MANY people struggled to come up with something, and we’d just smile and tell them that “that’s the point of this exercise!” And everyone came up with something eventually. It was a pretty fun event, and super easy to do.

Create an open and accepting culture surrounding mental health This was the biggest goal of the week, by far. Like I said, we have this knowledge of “mental health” as kind of this obscure entity that plagues veterinary students, but don’t really have a face to the name. There is very little sharing about personal experiences with mental health, and a really huge stigma to battle, as much as we don’t like to admit it. Our approach to tackling the stigma was to just get people talking and sharing. We know so many people struggle, but we don’t know who struggles and when did they struggle and what did they struggle with? Luckily for us in Canada, Bell Let’s Talk Day was the week before Let’s THRIVE Week. This is a day that Bell Canada puts on where you can use social media with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk for the purposes of bringing about these important discussions and breaking down stigma. Bell donates 5 cents to mental health charities for each post including the hashtag. This has been happening for about 5 or 6 years now, and it’s


pretty well known in Canada. So we decided to use this nationally recognized day to kick off our story-sharing and promote Let’s THRIVE Week. We came up with the “Humans of OVC” social media campaign. It’s basically the same as Humans of New York, but with a mental health spin. We had 3 exec members, 1 faculty, and 1 volunteer photographer to get this thing going. So we had 4 stories to share on Facebook, and we thought “you know, that could be enough to share during the week leading up to Let’s THRIVE Week, and that will be a good promotion!” We scheduled 2 students’ stories to be shared on our Facebook and Instagram (#HumansofOVC) on Bell Let’s Talk Day, and then the next ones during the rest of the week. We didn’t expect the response we got. The photos/stories pretty much blew up online, and people were talking! Pretty much within hours, I was getting emails from people wanting to take part and share their story, so we collected more stories, and now we have shared over 20 people’s stories since then – including the Dean of OVC! For Let’s THRIVE Week, we also made our “One Voice Come Together” (OVCT) Wall. This was a banner that was going to be displayed in the main foyer where we were posting anonymous submissions of stories about mental health. We collected some stories in advance through an anonymous survey, and we also had paper at the wall for students to take and write their own story or respond to stories on the wall. I was a bit worried about this event leading up to it – we had never given students an anonymous platform to talk about their struggles in an unfiltered way. We were vetting submissions for anything harmful or inappropriate, but didn’t end up having to exclude any. We allowed students to voice


their frustrations with their class and the school if it was conducive to their story, and the wall was visibly to anyone walking through the school at any time. I expected some backlash for having something so “negative” posted in the open, but that never happened.    After the wall was put up, it started off slow, I think people just didn’t know what it was all about. But soon we got more submissions and the crowds came by. The responsesthat people wrote were so heartwarming. It was a good visualization of the struggles people have and the kinds of challenges people are living with outside vet school. We will be posting some of these posts on our Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks. My favourite moment of the OVCT wall was this: Every day that we had it up, our Associate Dean of Students came by and read the posts and look for any new ones that went up. I worked for him this summer, and I had approached him a few times to make a submission for Humans of OVC. Although I didn’t get any response, I just figured he was busy and got a million emails, so I thought I would ask him in person sometime soon. On 


the third day of the OVCT Wall being up, near the end of the day I got an email from him with his story about growing up with Tourette’s Syndrome and how that affected his mental health over time, and he attached a picture and said I could post his name. He’s a very professional person, and also very visible to the student community, and he had never revealed this about himself before. To this day it’s the most viewed, liked, shared, commented on post on Humans of OVC. I have the inkling that he did this without prompting after reading all the stories on OVCT, but I haven’t asked him yet to confirm! Finally, we also had a mental health panel. We had 4 students and 2 faculty come and share their stories about mental health, ranging from diagnosed mental health conditions to the stresses of practice and professional life. We had never done anything like this before, so we had no idea what to expect! I met with the panelists the week before so that they could share their stories with each other, so they wouldn’t be hearing their colleagues talk about difficult things for the first time in front of an audience. I would definitely recommend this if you’re thinking of running a panel, because it helps everyone be comfortable and the panelists were really supportive of each other. It was a truly powerful evening, and the panelists got a standing ovation at the end from our crowd of about 60 people. The best part was, so many people hung around after to just talk to each other about their own stories and to show support. The feedback for Let’s THRIVE Week has been remarkable. I think opening several different avenues for sharing personal experiences was really monumental, and it felt kind of like the floodgates had opened. We were all made aware of the magnitude of struggles experienced by students, which I think has


resulted in 2 things: people started to feel less alone in their own struggles, and everyone became a bit more compassionate and empathetic to those around them. We are hoping to continue the openness that Let’s THRIVE Week has brought to OVC in order to work toward reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.

WANT TO KNOW MORE? If you want to know more about Let’s THRIVE Week or OVC THRIVE, please don’t hesitate to contact me! ( and you can see more photos from Let’s THRIVE week on our Facebook page here or our Instagram (@ovc.thrive).



We'd love to hear and share your thoughts, what you're doing to improve your wellness or raise awareness on wellness issues in the veterinary profession. Did you give a workshop or lecture? Did you organize an event? Did you hang up posters in your university? Share it with us so others can get inspired by your initiative. We're publishing interviews with students from all over the world in the next issue. Do you want to be interviewed? Send us an email!

YOUR ARTICLE IN THE NEXT ISSUE? Send your article to! Make sure you send the word version (with as little layout as possible) and your article is not longer than 3 pages


s i d n i m r a e l c A e c r u o s e r t s e b our


Mind over matter - Issue 1  

The first issue of 'Mind Over Matter' by the Standing Committee on Wellness of IVSA

Mind over matter - Issue 1  

The first issue of 'Mind Over Matter' by the Standing Committee on Wellness of IVSA