Riptides are dangerous areas of strongly moving water in the sea, which are a hazard to swimmers, and may also be strong negative feelings that are difficult to control.1 Ideally, riptides should be spotted and avoided from afar. But even with the best of our intentions, we sometimes can get caught off guard and pulled under.
The Riptide Project is a global and multidimensional non-profit initiative aimed at improving veterinary mental health and wellbeing in veterinary professionals.
Veterinary professionals are 2–4 times more likely than members of the general public to commit suicide. The risk factors related to veterinary suicide are varied, but range from character predispositions, financial stresses, inadequate support, and ready access to means.2 Furthermore, vets and vet nurses self-identify very strongly with their careers, and often struggle to leave the profession, even if they have reached dire straits.3
Excluding client factors, about 47% of respondents from a DVM360 survey on job satisfaction reported that workplace relationships and time management issues contributed the most to their on-the-job stress.4
Veterinary professionals all enter the industry with the same desire to work with and help animals. It’s time we helped each other.
The Riptide Project
The Riptide Project aims to promote conversations between veterinary individuals and organisations. RiptideCuppa is the paired “buddy system” where veterinary professionals can apply to be a giver or receiver. Interested persons write in to The Riptide Project, where we connect them to the nearest veterinary professional in their area. Both parties then take 30 minutes out of their day to meet with their buddy; the only proviso being that the receiver needs to pass a RiptideCuppa on in the future.
For veterinary professionals who don’t have easy access to a RiptideCuppa, they will be able to connect with the personal experiences and aspirations of others online. Everyone is invited to send in brief submissions, or lengthier articles and videos through the website. In the future, there are also plans to host dialogue sessions and events for stakeholders all over the world.
Through face-to-face and online support, veterinary professionals from varied cultural and work backgrounds will be able to connect with likeminded people, both on home ground and abroad. The networking opportunities also open avenues for employment, and allow the diversification of veterinary careers outside of clinical practice.
The Riptide Project will be launched to a global audience at the 2017 WSAVA/FECAVA Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark. We look forward to engaging, learning from, and working with, other veterinary professionals who are passionate about improving mental health and wellbeing in the industry.
The Riptide Project
1. Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus (Internet). Riptide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2017. Available from: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/riptide.
2. Bartram DJ, Baldwin OS. Veterinary surgeons and suicide: a structured review of possible influences on increased risk. Vet Rec. 2010;166:388–397.
3. Page-Jones S, Abbey G. Career identity in the veterinary profession. Vet Rec. 2015;25:176(17)433.
4. DVM360.com staff. 2015 dvm360 job satisfaction survey. www.dvm360.com. Available from: http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/2015-dvm360-job-satisfaction-survey. Cited 10 June, 2017.