Some jobs are tougher than others...
It is estimated that Compassion Fatigue is more prevalent in the animal care field than any other field.
One study in America found that suicide rates for veterinarians were 6 times higher than the general population and two times higher than for other types of doctors.
This hit home for me in 2014 when Sophia Yin, a veterinarian and an animal behaviorist and one of my early mentors, took her own life.
I'm in absolute awe of anyone who works in this field. Working just with the animals would be hard enough but also having to deal with people adds another level of complexity, communication, compassion and emotion-provoking interactions. Plus, most jobs have constant interruptions and the "threat of an emergency" always looms. All this combined, makes people working in this field especially vulnerable to burnout, non-healthy coping strategies and the myriad of symptoms "compassion fatigue" can have.
It's important to know that while Compassion Fatigue isn’t a mental illness, left untreated it definitely degrades the quality of the care-givers health and quality of life.
You know the analogy about the frog being plopped into a pot of boiling water but when the heat is slowly turned-up he doesn’t notice…that can be very much like compassion fatigue.
The trick is recognizing that work does affect us and that in order to stay healthy and happy, we absolutely must have good coping strategies, good self-care in place and be able to spot the times when, for our own sake, we have “to call uncle”.
The work will evoke strong emotions. Developing burn-out and fatigue is optional.