Mental Health in Wildlife Rehabilitation
Compassion fatigue, burn out, and other mental health concerns are important considerations in the field of wildlife rehabilitation, as in many care-giving and trauma-related fields. As a community, it is essential that we offer support and care to one another and know when and how to ask for help. The resources on this page are assembled to help you, the wildlife care professional, navigate the intimidating and sometimes inapproachable world of mental health awareness. Do your best to recognize when you or those around you need help. Check in regularly with yourself and your colleagues and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
~ Helping the Helper chapter: In this exerpt from Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation, offered free for you, Dr. Karra Pierce discusses common mental health concerns for wildlife care givers and offers practical suggestions for building a community of support.
~ The "Mountain Meditation": This 16-minute meditation, created by Jackie Howell of Peaceful Hands Yoga, is based on the teachings of mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn. The meditation invites you to embrace the energy of a mountain as you cultivate quiet, stillness, and strength. It can be done seated on a Yoga mat or in a chair ... wherever!
~ This five-minute "Relaxation Audio": teaches two relaxation techniques: 1) a simple breathwork and 2) a gentle, calming face massage. Perfect for those busy rehabilitators who have a spare two minutes while waiting for formula to warm!
~ Ending Your Day as a Wildlife Rehabilitator is a printable pdf resource that guides you through a mindfulness excercise as you close out your day to prepare to transition into other parts of your life.
~ Affirmations for a Wildlife Rehabilitator is a printable list of statements of affirmation written by wildlife care professionals for wildlife care professionals. Read them, say them, believe them.
Print this short reminder. Post it on your desk or in your animal kitchen, share it with your colleagues and peers.
Mental Health Resources
(printable pdf of the following resources)
IWRC Mental Health Blog
“We here at the IWRC have recently put forth a few resources promoting mental health in wildlife rehabilitation, such as our blog post on Self-Caring During COVID-19 and our Going Home Checklist. As we can all imagine, due to the emotion, long hours, and stress placed on us (especially during the intense spring and summer hours), the importance of mental health cannot be overstated…. but what is mental health? How does our work impact our mental health? What can we do about this?”
Professional Quality of Life Measure
A variety of resources for recognizing and understanding compassion fatigue, burn out, and secondary trauma.
Mental Health is Health
“‘Mental Health is Health’ is an MTV Entertainment Group initiative rooted in the reality that we all have mental health and need to take care of it like we do our physical health. The initiative aims to normalize conversation, create a connection to resources and inspire action on mental health.”
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
“ADAA works to prevent, treat, and cure anxiety disorders and depression. ADAA's mission focuses on improving quality of life for those with anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and co-occurring disorders through education, practice, and research.”
“Making professional counseling accessible, affordable, convenient - so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere.”