Flynn’s Walk for Vets’ Mental Health, which originated in Melbourne in 2018 to honor the loss of Dr. Flynn Hargreaves, is coming to Sydney for the first time.
Flynn’s Walk was established in 2018 following the incredibly sad loss of Dr. Flynn Hargreaves (BVSc) a quirky, fun-loving, dedicated, and talented veterinarian. Dr. Hargreaves died by suicide while living and working in the UK as a locum vet, at the age of 27.
The walk, which is supported by The Petbarn Foundation, aims to raise awareness of the devastatingly high rates of burnout and suicide in the veterinary profession.
In 2022, the walks are happening in Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Sydney. The organizers of Flynn’s Walk with the support of the Petbarn Foundation, encourage pet owners who live in Sydney to attend the free event on 18 September at Sydney Olympic Park with their pets to help encourage meaningful conversation and raise awareness of mental health issues faced in the veterinary industry.
Sadly, veterinarians have a disproportionately high rate of suicide, being four times higher than the general population, and two times higher than other health professionals according to Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) research.
Now more than ever the veterinary industry needs support, with the pandemic sparking a drastic increase in pet ownership, placing unforeseen pressure on the industry, and adding to unique challenges including the national vet shortages. It is estimated there are an additional one million pets now needing care in Australia since the pandemic, to a total of nearly 31 million, with just 13,500 vets, only roughly 9,500 of which are practicing.
Since 2018, Flynn’s Walk and the spread of its message have been phenomenal. This year, The Petbarn Foundation is working hard to expand this platform and encourage support by not only the veterinarian industry but also the public who can care for their pets and their friends by showing compassion to the profession.
On the weekend of Flynn’s Walk, 100 percent of sales from Petbarn Foundation Hedgehogs sold in Petbarn stores and Greencross Vets clinics will go directly to Flynn’s Walk.
Janelle Bloxsom, Manager, Petbarn Foundation, outlined the importance of Flynn’s Walk to raise awareness of the struggles our veterinarians are facing.
“This special event is such a wonderful opportunity to spread awareness of the pressures on veterinarians on a large scale. With vets constantly taking care of our beloved pets, it’s time for us to care for them in return and recognize their lifesaving work.
“It is our hope that many will attend Flynn’s Walk in Sydney, walking in solidarity with the veterinary community to recognize the hard work and compassion that comes from vets to keep pets safe.”
Jack Levitt is the President and Founder of Flynn’s Walk. He was also a close friend of Dr. Flynn Hargreaves and is on a mission to reduce suicide in the veterinary and animal care industries.
“Flynn was a bright spark and one of the most talented people I knew. We were friends from high school and remained great mates in our adult lives. He was a great vet and a better friend. Sadly, with the hardship faced by the profession, the industry lost an asset, and his friends and family lost someone we loved. It is so important that we have healthy vets to provide much-needed care and support for our pets. We need to have these conversations around mental health to destigmatize the issue and allow those struggling to feel safe and supported. We hope Flynn’s Walk can help facilitate these conversations.”
Greencross Vets is one of the largest veterinary providers and is committed to supporting Flynn’s Walk and driving awareness of mental health in the profession.
“We are long-term supporters of Flynn’s Walk and are really excited to welcome the event to Sydney for the first time. The continued growth of the charity and its expansion across our country truly shows how awareness of the unique hardships that veterinarians face is growing, which is the first step to creating change for our profession,” said Dr Adam Sternberg, Greencross Vets Regional Clinical Director.
“We are so grateful that Flynn’s Walk and The Petbarn Foundation are encouraging meaningful conversation around mental health, and attendance of all people and pets is much appreciated by our veterinary community.”
All community members, including adults, children, and pets are invited to join in the walk along the Parramatta River, starting and finishing near Newington Armory in Sydney Olympic Park. There will be a picnic following the walk including a sausage sizzle, which will be provided by The Petbarn Foundation, and The NOSH Project, human-grade food for dogs.
If you are a veterinarian who is experiencing a difficult time, please call the Australian Veterinary Association on 1300 687 327 for confidential telephone counseling.