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Cross-sectional analysis of veterinary student coping strategies and stigma in seeking psychological help
  1. Michelle L McArthur1,
  2. Susan M Matthew2,
  3. Conor P B Brand1,
  4. Jena Andrews1,
  5. Anne Fawcett3 and
  6. Susan Hazel1
  1. 1School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, University of Adelaide, Roseworthy, South Australia, Australia
  2. 2College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, USA
  3. 3Faculty of Science, Sydney School of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
  1. E-mail for correspondence; michelle.mcarthur{at}


Veterinary education can result in high levels of academic stressors for students. Students are also susceptible to non-academic stressors, including relationship issues and financial concerns. These can all result in mental ill health, which may impair the student’s ability to complete their studies and go on to a successful professional career. Finding and using strategies early on to help alleviate mental health problems is critical to successful management of these problems, but seeking help may be impeded by the stigma associated with mental health problems. Using a cross-sectional online survey of a sample of Australian veterinary students, the aim of the current study was to investigate the type and frequency of their coping strategies as well as to explore relationships between self-stigma and coping strategies. Female veterinary students reported more use of instrumental and emotional support as coping strategies, while male veterinary students demonstrated more use of humour. Self-stigma was related to less instrumental support, greater self-blame and gender, while males who employed more humour as a coping strategy reported more self-stigma. Improving the coping strategies of veterinary students and reducing the self-stigma surrounding mental ill health is important to improve the wellbeing and resilience of the veterinary profession.

  • wellbeing
  • coping strategies
  • self-stigma
  • veterinary students
  • mental health
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  • Funding A Seed Grant from the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences from the University of Adelaide helped support this study.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The study received ethics approval from the University of Adelaide Human Research Ethics Committee

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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