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Managing stress in dentistry

Promoting wellbeing and looking at the causes of stress and burnout are critical for the future of the profession, as is understanding the underlying reasons for low levels of morale and job satisfaction in the profession.

Our work has provided more dentists with access to services to support mental health and wellbeing.

 

Here we outline the resources available to you and some of the research which is underway into this important topic.

 

Confidential counselling for members

We've provided all members with access to Health Assured, a comprehensive confidential service designed to help you deal with personal and professional problems that could be affecting your home life or work life, health, and general wellbeing. Members can access the helpline 24/7, 365 days a year.

 

  • Life support: Unlimited access to counselling for emotional problems and a pathway to structured telephone counselling for you or your dependents and for you face-to-face counselling sessions at your convenience.
  • Legal information: Advice for you on any issues that cause anxiety or distress including debt management, accountancy, lawsuits, consumer disputes, property or neighbour disputes.
  • Bereavement support: Health Assured offers qualified and experienced counsellors who can help with grief and related stress plus a team of legal advisors to help with legal issues.
  • Medical information: Qualified nurses are on hand to offer advice on a range of medical or health related issues. They can’t diagnose but can offer a sympathetic ear and practical information and advice.
  • CBT online: We recognise the value of self-help tools in dealing with a range of issues, which is why we have a range of CBT self-help modules, informative factsheets and invaluable advice videos from leading qualified counsellors.

Find out more: 

Health Assured

 

 

UK-wide support

The following resources and services are available to dentists across the UK:

 

  • Our free online tackling stress course is aimed to help you identify the triggers of work-related stress, how you spot the signs and how you can overcome it
  • Wellbeing support for the dental team: a guide outling how to assess your own mental health and wellbeing and provides resources for self-care, including the range of organisations available to support you
  • The Dentists' Health Support Programme provides dentists with free advice and support on health, alcohol, drugs and other issues. Tel 0207 224 4671 or email: dentistsprogramme@gmail.com
  • NHS staff support includes wellbeing guides, apps and events. Find out more at NHS People.
  • The BDA Benevolent Fund is also available to help dentists and dental students who are experiencing financial difficulties.
  • Our branches and sections are a great way to meet with other dentists in your area, who can help support you both professionally and personally, get in touch with your local group to find out more.

England

We've welcomed the Health Secretary's announcement that dentists in England will at last have access to a comprehensive mental health service on par with doctors. The NHS Practitioner Health programme offers free access to their confidential advice and support - staffed by experts whose training is tailored to understand the specific circumstances of clinical life.

 

Northern Ireland

A consultation on NI’s mental health strategy 2021-31 recently concluded, and we continue to work with elected representatives and Government stakeholders to ensure that this momentum manifests itself in truly collaborative and supportive services.

 

The following services and resources are available to dentists and their teams in Northern Ireland, as well as the UK-wide resources listed above: 

 

  • Download this Wellness Resource which includes useful links to the support available to dental teams in Northern Ireland.
  • Download this guide to mental wellbeing support for the whole dental team.
  • Occupational Health is available to all dentists in Northern Ireland and DCPs in the salaried services, as well as GDPs.
  • Inspire NI have put in place a GDS Assistance Programme, a one-stop-shop for wellbeing and mental health support specifically designed to meet the needs of GDPs in Northern Ireland. It includes a free, 24-hour, confidential support helpline 0800 389 5362 and off-site face-to-face counselling, as well as a range of digital tools and resources to support your wellbeing.
  • If you are worried about your own or a colleagues mental health, drug or alcohol use, you can contact the Dentists Health Support Trust for professional and confidential support and advice.
  • The HSC NI in conjunction with ORCHA have launched a Healthcare Apps Library. Available apps include; stress management, staying fit, well-being and improving sleep.
  • For those suffering bereavement, there is help available for you and your loved ones through the Family Support government website.
  • For those impacted by suicide or suicide attempts, it is important to reach out and seek professional help. Lifeline 0808 808 8000 is a free 24/7 support service based in Northern Ireland.
  • Suicide awareness continues to be run twice a year by NIMDTA with courses being hosted inside and outside Belfast. There is access for the whole dental team to this training module.
  • Stress awareness and management training is available for all GDC registrants on the CPD hub in two one-hour modules.
  • Students and trainees can access university and deanery resources which are available to all postgraduate trainees.
  • For all dentists who are concerned they may have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, contact the NI Doctors and Dentists Group, Dr. John Burton drjburton@btinternet.com on 028 7963 3265 or 07710 741 169, where you will find confidential professional help and support.

  • And finally, if you are experiencing financial difficulty the BDA Benevolent Fund might be able to help. The Fund is open to all dentists, dental students (not just BDA members) and their dependents.

 

Scotland

BDA Scotland has been working jointly with Scottish Government to produce mental health and wellbeing resources for dentists and their teams across Scotland. This compilation highlights guidance and support resources available for you to draw on for help, as and when you may need it. We are acutely aware of the growing impact the Coronavirus pandemic is having on our professional and personal lives. You can also access a range of UK-wide resources.

 

BDA Scotland and the Scottish Dental Practice Committee made great strides in getting dentists and their teams access to the NHS Occupational Health Advice and Guidance Service. This service, introduced in June 2018, offers support to those experiencing stress and is delivered through the NHS Boards.

 

A research report on the impact of the pandemic on dentists' mental health in Scotland contains some concerning results:

 

  • 27% of survey respondents reported significant depressive symptomology
  • 55% of primary care staff rated themselves as emotionally exhausted.

We worked with the Scottish Government to produce a summary of mental health and wellbeing resources for dental teams. We hope this to be a useful resource for dealing with the problem, however the primary focus must be on prevention.

 

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has stated that it will incorporate dentists' mental health in its future work, including follow-up studies. We have discussed with NES how we may contribute to this important issue.

 

Wales

NHS dentists in Wales currently have no specific support service from Government for mental health wellbeing. BDA Wales and representatives from our Committees are speaking to Assembly Members, Health Boards and Government to establish what support is already accessible and identify any gaps. In the meantime, you can access the range of UK-wide resources above.

 

 

What you've told us about stress in dentistry

More than half of dentists say stress is affecting their practice

Almost half of dentists say stress in their job is exceeding their ability to cope and the most stressful aspects of their work are related to regulation and fear of litigation from patients.

 

We found high levels of stress and burnout amongst a survey of more than 2,000 UK dentists, amongst whom almost a fifth (17.6%) admitted they had seriously thought about suicide.

 

Read more: A survey of stress, burnout and wellbeing among UK dentists, BDJ 226 40-49 (11 January 2019)

 

Over-scrutiny by regulators

Our focus group study in 2017 revealed a disappointed core of dentists who felt that they had been over-scrutinised by regulators (GDC and CQC) rather than protected and supported to do their work effectively and efficiently.

 

They want to be trusted first rather than last and felt that a patient’s word was often taken first and that they were guilty without investigation and that the hallmarks of a GDC process, even in the event of a clear verdict, lay indelibly on dentists who had survived the process.

 

Environmental factors, such as the NHS dental contract in England, particularly the pressure to attain UDA targets need changing– we have been calling for a reformed dental contract to be implemented.

 

Read more: The mental health and wellbeing of UK dentists.

 

Employment stressors

Salaried primary care dentists are over twice as likely to report high levels of job stressfulness by comparison with other employees. Organisational and service pressures; management and staffing issues; role-related sources of stress; patient care and treatment; and professional issues and concerns were cited by employed dentists.

 

Read more: Sources of stress among salaried dentists.

 

For the latest updates on our work, read our blogs.

 

Other organisations to contact

There are also several organisations that provide advice and support for anyone experiencing stress or mental health issues:


Stress

Anxiety UK - 08444 775 774
Support for people affected by anxiety disorders.
 
Anxiety Care UK - 07552 877219
Helps individuals to recover from anxiety disorders.
 
BDA Benevolent Fund - 020 7486 4994
Provides support for dentists (both past and present) in times of need or crisis.
 
Dental Protection - 0800 561 1010
A confidential counselling service for those suffering from stress and anxiety associated with a range of complaints such as litigation or dental council hearings. DPL members only.
 
No Panic - 0844 967 4848
Support to individuals (and carers of people) suffering from anxiety disorders including panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder.  
 
No More Panic - 01952 680835
Information, support and advice for those suffering from a range of anxiety disorders, panic, phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder.


Stress prevention and management in the workplace

ACAS - 0300 123 1100
Free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. The ACAS advisory booklet stress at work investigates stress in the workplace and offers employers helpful advice.
 
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - 0300 003 1747
Resources for work-related stress including step-by-step guidance to help organisations assess the risks of stress and identify solutions for managers to implement and managing the causes of work-related stress: A step-by-step approach using the Management Standards.

NHS Choices
Comprehensive health information online, including information and guidance about health, support and social care services in England. See stress, anxiety and depression.
 
Healthy Working Lives - 0800 019 2211
Support and advice for employers to create a safe, healthy and more motivated workforce across Scotland.
 
Tackle Mental Health
Online resource to provide line managers with information on how to support employees (disabled or disadvantaged) experiencing mental health conditions.
 
Time to Change
Mental health information and guidance on creating a healthier workplace for employees and managers


Suicide prevention

CALM - 0800 58 58 58

Support to prevent men in the UK from committing suicide.
 
PAPYRUS - 0800 068 4141
Confidential help and advice for young people to prevent them committing suicide. 
 
Samaritans - 116 123 
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
 
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide - 0300 111 5065                       
Support to those bereaved by the suicide of a close relative or friend.
 
Maytree - 020 7263 7070
A sanctuary for the suicidal and support to relieve feelings of despair and isolation


Relationships

​Bereavement Advice Centre - 0800 634 9494
Advice and information for bereaved people on a range of practical matters following a death.
 
Cruse Bereavement Care - 0808 808 1677
Support, advice and information after the death of someone close.
 
Relate - 0300 100 1234
Relationship support and advice for all people


Psychological distress / mental ill-health 

Bipolar UK - 0333 323 3880
Support and information for people living with bipolar disorder.
 
Depression Alliance - 0207 407 7584
Support for people suffering from depression.
 
Mental Health Foundation - 020 7803 1100
Information on understanding and maintaining good mental health.
 
Mind - 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Support for those suffering from mental health problems.
 
Mood Swings - 0161 832 3736
A charity which provides confidential information, advice and support to people with mood disorders, including their family, friends and health and social care professionals.
 
NHS Depression support groups
Comprehensive health information on depression.
 
NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP) - 020 3049 4505
Support and advice to doctors and dentists with mental or physical health concerns or addiction problems, especially where these might affect their work.
 
OCD Action - 0300 636 5478
Support for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) offering them information on treatment and online resources.
 
Rethink Mental Illness - 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 10am-2pm)
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
 
Samaritans - 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
 
Sane - 0845 767 8000
Resources and information on mental health. 
 
The Dentists’ Health Support Programme (DHSP) - 020 7224 4671
Advice and support for dental professionals affected by health issues, including alcohol, drugs and eating disorders


Addictions – alcohol / drugs

Addaction - 020 7251 5860​
Services to help transform the lives of people affected by drug and alcohol problems.
 
Alcoholics anonymous - 0800 9177 650
Support for individuals recovering from alcoholism.

British Doctors and Dentists Group (BDDG) - 07792 819 966
Support to doctors and dentists who are recovering, or wish to recover, from addiction to or dependency on alcohol or other drugs.
 
Cocaine Anonymous - 0300 111 2285
A supportive programme to stop people from using cocaine and other mind-altering substances (including alcohol and other drugs).
 
Narcotics Anonymous - 0300 999 1212
Help and support to those with a drug problem
 
NHS Practitioner Health Programme (PHP) - 020 3049 4505
Support and advice to doctors and dentists with mental or physical health concerns or addiction problems, especially where these might affect their work.
 
The Alliance - 0845 122 8608
Advocacy, training and a helpline service to those currently in drug treatment (or those who have accessed drug treatment previously/or will do in the future).
 
The Dentists’ Health Support Programme (DHSP) - 020 7224 4671
Advice and support for dental professionals affected by health issues, including alcohol, drugs and eating disorders