Free psychological help for vets and wildlife carers post-bushfires

Barbara Barrett, Sue Ashton and Cheyne Flanagan treat bushfire-affected koala Lake Innes Nature Reserve Peter. Photo: Port Macquarie News
Barbara Barrett, Sue Ashton and Cheyne Flanagan treat bushfire-affected koala Lake Innes Nature Reserve Peter. Photo: Port Macquarie News

A free psychological support service has launched for veterinary and wildlife carers treating the millions of wildlife and livestock impacted by the fires.

The initiative is being led by veterinarian wellbeing charity Love Your Pet Love Your Vet who have partnered with Australian Association of Psychologists Inc (AAPi) to connect those caring for animals on the frontline with volunteer registered psychologists.

Nearly half a billion animals have been impacted by the fires in NSW alone, with the total number of animals affected nationwide predicted to be as high as a billion.

Those assisting with the treatment of wildlife and livestock are facing horrific sights, with many animals so badly injured they are having to be euthanised.

Veterinarians already face unprecedented psychological stresses on the job and have one of the highest rates of suicide worldwide.

Those in the profession are four times more likely than the general population and twice as likely as other health professionals to suicide, making the need for accessible support services during this time of crisis all the more significant.

"Our veterinarians are already under immense pressure and may already be overwhelmed," psychologist and founder of Love Your Pet Love Your Vet Dr Nadine Hamilton said.

Our veterinarians are already under immense pressure and may already be overwhelmed.

Dr Nadine Hamilton

"The situation faced by our veterinary and wildlife carers as a result of the fires will no doubt be adding additional psychological stress, but there is support available. Don't suffer in silence when it's not necessary."

"During times of crisis the need for accessible psychological support services is vital and we've been overwhelmed by the number of psychologists offering their time and expertise to help those on the frontline," AAPi executive director Tegan Carrison added.

"There is no doubt that we will be seeing the psychological ripple effects of this disaster for weeks, months and years to come, so the sooner people seek help the better."

Those seeking to access the service or psychological professionals wanting to volunteer their support can head online to www.loveyourpetloveyourvet.com.au/bushfire-support.

The free counselling services will be offered over the phone and online via Skype or Zoom.

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