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Mental Health and Stress support available for dentists in Northern Ireland

Managing your mental wellbeing can feel like a real challenge, especially during this time of year.

However, plenty of resources are available to help you get through the difficult times.

The social enterprise Inspire offers the General Dental Services (GDS) Assistance Programme to all dentists facing personal difficulties in Northern Ireland. The service is funded directly by the Department of Health, specifically for GDPs.

Inspire is one of the largest mental health and wellbeing service providers in the UK and Ireland, they recognise that there are many personal factors that can influence your mental health, providing dentists' information and guidance on:

  • Finances
  • Legal matters
  • Bereavement
  • Caring for relatives and childcare
  • Drug & alcohol misuse
  • Depression & anxiety
  • Discrimination
  • Divorce
  • Work life issues and stress management.

Six free counselling sessions can be accessed via the service.

This resource was commissioned by the Department of Health and it's available to all dentists working in GDS in Northern Ireland – however to date, uptake has been low, and so provision is under threat. It runs on a self-referral basis and is independent and confidential. The telephone line is staffed by qualified professionals and experienced staff (BACP accredited or equivalent) and offers immediate 24/7 support, 365 days per year.

The service also includes an online support hub with CBT based self-help programs and digital intervention for situational stress, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. A wellbeing information library and mood tracker is also available to support you. A wallet card and leaflet explaining what the service offers can be accessed to print and share with colleagues.

You can reach out for support via email: [email protected] or by calling: 0800 389 362.

Health Assured is a further resource BDA members from across the UK can access. This service includes counselling and emotional support 24/7 to help you deal with both personal and professional issues that affect your work life as well as your general mental wellbeing.

Thanks to this partnership you will also be able to access bereavement support, medical information, online CBT self-help and legal advice for you on any issues that cause anxiety or distress. This covers subjects such as debt management, accountancy, consumer disputes, property, or neighbour disputes.

Supporting your mental health can be complex and reaching out is often the most difficult part. Health Assured recognises this further obstacle and has created The Mental Health Hour, a weekly Q&A with a counsellor that takes place on their Instagram page.

Every week a topic is carefully selected between the most frequent type of calls and queries they receive on their 24/7 counselling helpline; anyone can send in questions on the topic for a counsellor to answer. The aim is to open the discussion about mental health to the wider public, allowing passive participation from anyone feeling insecure about reaching out.

Further wellbeing resources they offer include webinars that provide topical information and self-help guidance on a variety of issues and the My Healthy Advantage app including self-help guides, and support for physical and mental health though fitness and lifestyle advice.

As of 2023 they will also provide a new wellbeing feature called Wisdom AI. This tool combines their counsellors' professional expertise with the latest artificial intelligence technology to provide answers to your wellbeing questions.

During challenging times it's important to be reminded that we are not alone. Being aware of the tools available to support you can be the first step towards your journey toward improved mental health.

If you ever feel overwhelmed please contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 for free 24/7 support in NI or the Samaritans on Freephone 116 123.