One of the UK’s leading veterinary groups has launched a bold initiative to tackle the alarming level of suicides within the industry.

Linnaeus, which has around 150 sites across the UK, is taking action to counter the statistic that suicide rates among vets are nearly four times the national average and double that of doctors or dentists.

Linnaeus has dramatically increased support to its staff nationwide by training almost 100 mental health first aiders in a bid to proactively deal with the mental health problems in the veterinary world.

Michelle O’Connor, Linnaeus’s group people and culture director, said: “Veterinarians are three to four times more likely to die by suicide than workers from any other industry.

“Because of this alarming statistic, we have put wellbeing at the very forefront of our strategy and have so far trained nearly 100 mental health first aiders within the group.

“This demonstrates the commitment we have to our people and their wellbeing and I’m really proud of the volunteers who have put themselves forward.”

The Linnaeus volunteers, who are taken from both office and clinical roles, have all attended a training course run by Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) to acquire the skills to support their own and others’ wellbeing.

The MHFA course trains people to identify the signs of mental ill health, to break down the stigma and barriers surrounding mental health and listen to colleagues in a non-judgemental way, and to help direct those suffering from issues to the support and guidance that’s available.

Linnaeus recently highlighted World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10) as part of its programme to focus on mental health issues and will continue to spotlight the problem.

Michelle added: “At Linnaeus, the wellbeing of all our people is really important to us. We realise that training on how to spot signs of a crisis and become a mental health first aider alone does not address the prevailing stigma around mental health in the workplace. So, in addition, we are developing a culture where support and conversations about mental health are normalised, so that colleagues feel able to reach out for the important support they need”.

For more information on Mental Health First Aid England, visit

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