Professional help-seeking behaviour for mental health problems among veterinarians in Norway: a nationwide, cross-sectional study (The NORVET study)

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Abstract

Background: Veterinarians have a relatively high prevalence of mental health problems; however, research on professional help-seeking is limited. The main purpose of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of mental health problems and professional help-seeking behaviour for such problems, and the independent factors associated with help-seeking behaviour among veterinarians in Norway. Method: This cross-sectional study included all veterinarians in Norway (response rate 75%, 70% women). Logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (OR) for professional help-seeking for mental health problems. Analyses were controlled for socio-demographic, individual (personality trait reality weakness, SCL-5, attitudes toward mental illness), and work-related factors (work field, job stress). Results: The prevalence of self-reported mental health problems in need of treatment was 30% (746/2494), significantly higher among women than men (36% vs. 15%). Fifty-four percent had sought professional help, women significantly more often (56%) than men (41%). Among veterinarians with serious suicidal thoughts, 50% (69/139) had sought help. Veterinarians most frequently related mental health problems to work problems (47%), women significantly more often (49%) than men (34%). Factors significantly associated with help-seeking were being female, OR = 2.11 (95% CI: 1.24–3.60), working with production animals, OR = 0.35 (0.13–0.98), public administration, OR = 2.27 (1.15–4.45), academia/research, OR = 4.78 (1.99–11.47) or ‘other’ fields, OR = 2.79 (1.23–6.32), and attitudes toward mental illness, OR = 1.32 (1.03–1.68). Conclusions: Thirty percent of veterinarians in Norway reported mental health problems in need of treatment, and only half of them had sought professional help. A low degree of help-seeking was also seen among those with serious suicidal thoughts. Being female, positive attitudes toward treatment of mental illness, working in public administration, academia/research and ‘other’ field were associated with more help-seeking, while working in production animal practice was associated with less help-seeking. Interventions to increase help-seeking behaviour for mental health problems among veterinarians are warranted.

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Dalum, H. S., Tyssen, R., Moum, T., Thoresen, M., & Hem, E. (2022). Professional help-seeking behaviour for mental health problems among veterinarians in Norway: a nationwide, cross-sectional study (The NORVET study). BMC Public Health, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-022-13710-y

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