Suicide prevention and mental health

Delve into the latest research on suicide and its causes in this conversation on veterinary mental health with experts from the AVMA and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). Learn the importance of using culturally appropriate, evidence-based strategies to promote mental health, prevent suicide, and intervene in a mental health crisis. Come away knowing individual and community risk and protective factors, get guidance on mental health crisis warning signs, and learn how to get help for someone in crisis. 

This seminar will provide participants with strategies to promote mental health, identify the warning signs of a mental health crisis, get help for someone who’s struggling, and provide support after a suicide event – vital steps in building healthy communities and supporting our colleagues and peers. A culture of caring offers help and hope to its members—and we all can play a role in building that community. 

This webinar was developed in partnership with the AAVMC.

Participants can expect to learn about:

  • Recent research on suicide prevention 
  • Evidence-based strategies for promoting mental health in the profession 
  • Individual and community risk and protective factors
  • Guidance on mental health crisis intervention



Makenzie Peterson is the director for wellbeing at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). She works to advance AAVMC’s strategic goal of fostering a culture of wellbeing throughout academic veterinary medicine by promoting preventive systems-based initiatives. She provides expertise on the science and application of evidence-based wellbeing practices, and the development and implementation of strategic organizational changes to improve wellbeing in academic communities. She speaks on a variety of wellbeing topics across the profession to drive positive change. 

Her previous roles included serving as a health specialist for a joint MIT/Harvard-sponsored start-up focused on educating college students on health topics. She also was the first wellbeing program director at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, creating community wellbeing initiatives for students, staff, and faculty. She has served on the Wellbeing Committee for the New York State Veterinary Medical Society and on the board of directors for the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative. 

She earned her master’s degree in health promotion and health education from the University of Utah and is scheduled to complete her Ph.D. in social work from the University of Southern California in 2022.


Jen Brandt, Ph.D., is a licensed independent social worker and supervisor, experienced grief and trauma therapist, and healthcare team communications specialist. She has served as a certified psychology of eating coach, nutrition and lifestyle coach, QPR suicide prevention instructor, anti-oppression informed practitioner, and director of wellbeing, diversity and inclusion initiatives at the AVMA. Brandt founded The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Honoring the Bond Program, one of the first programs in the nation aimed at recognizing and honoring the human-animal bond by providing support and resources to animal owners and animal care professionals. She helped spearhead the launch of AVMA’s online Workplace Wellbeing and Brave Space certificate programs. She is a nationally and internationally acclaimed speaker at veterinary colleges and conferences and has served as a senior trainer and facilitator for the Institute for Healthcare Communication since 2003. In 2020, she was elected as a distinguished fellow of the National Academies of Practice (NAP) in social work.