It is no secret that the rigors of professional medical programs are creating an immense strain on mental health, and studies show that students are coping poorly. It is becoming more widely known that this problem especially exists in veterinary medicine. Veterinary colleges are starting to make changes to address the mental health crisis among their student (and practitioner) population, however, in order to solve a problem you must first understand your audience. There are still questions regarding who is more often affected and why? In this study, the prevalence and correlates of stress, anxiety, and depression among veterinary students in the Southeastern US is the primary focus. Three hundred and forty two participants answered survey questions addressing socio-demographics, as well as, completed a perceived stress scale and patient health questionnaire (PHQ-4) to measure anxiety and depression. Chi-square, independent samples t-test, and ANOVA were conducted to assess demographic correlates of stress, anxiety, and depression. High levels of stress, anxiety, and depression were identified among veterinary students participating in the study. Stress level was significantly associated with sex and Grade Point Average (GPA): females and those with GPA <3.0 exhibited higher levels of stress. While it is good that veterinary colleges are already making changes, the question remains if these changes are significant enough. Based on this study's results, transitioning to a pass/fail grading system and implementing regular mindfulness practice are proposed changes that may aid in promoting a positive mental health culture for students and future veterinary professionals.
- Mental health
- Veterinary students