Some furry, four-legged personal trainers are helping staff at JCU Vet push the taboo issue of mental health into the spotlight.
Referral nurse Kim Paas came across the Push-up Challenge on social media. She has led the funds and awareness-raising initiative at the veterinary hospital located at JCU Townsville. Their adorable patients have been enlisted to help them get fit and get the message out there.
“Each day the challenge put up a Facebook post that gives you a number of push-ups and it’s related to a statistic from 2017 or 2018 for either good health or a statistic for mental health.”
The challenge prescribes 3128 push-ups in 21 days and aims to raise funds and awareness for mental health across all professions.
“Each day the challenge just sends you a little fact. One hundred and five was on Friday, and getting 15 minutes of bright sunlight is a good idea to guard against depression,” Kim said.
Kim has been in the industry for two decades and sees a few push-ups as a worthwhile bit of pain to bring mental health into the spotlight.
“Anyone who’s been in the vet industry a length of time is not untouched by suicide,” Kim said.
“You’ve always heard of someone, know someone, so I think it’s really important for us to raise that awareness.
“It’s also important to have a bit of contact amongst ourselves and bring it all up amongst ourselves.”
It goes without saying that the work of vets isn’t all puppies and kittens. Beyond the obvious challenges of the occupation, vets often face unfair criticism from clients.
“I think the pressure the public puts on vets is also difficult. They put a lot of financial constraints on vets to do good work, I think that’s quite stressful as well,” Kim said.
“It’s that emotional blackmail that’s quite difficult to get over sometimes.”
Kim suggests pet insurance in order to cover unexpected costs and ease pressure on vets who are putting in the extra work to keep furry family members healthy.
“Having pet insurance for your pets is a really great idea because then you’ve got the ability to pay if things out of the blue happen that you’re not expecting,” she said.
“You’ve got an option to pay for unexpected dramas that might occur, then you’re able to offer your pet the best quality care.
“Also give vets a break, they’re not all in it for the money. They do actually care a lot, probably too much about their patients.”
Beyond being a responsible pet owner, being aware of mental health issues can also play a huge part in the battle for good mental health.
According to Kim it can be as simple as asking, “Are you ok?” and knowing what to do next.
“Checking in on them is one thing, but then checking in again to make sure that they’re doing something about it and they know where to find help if they need it,” she said.
“I might check in on someone and if they’re not doing ok I might not be able to help them personally but I can put them in touch with a GP or advise them of different places that they can search on the internet where there’s help available.”
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health, you can contact Beyond Blue to seek help.
If you have a passion for animals, consider JCU Veterinary Science.