Raising mental health awareness with dentistry staff

Monday, 9 October 2017 – Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement
Raising mental health awareness with dentistry staff

As part of World Mental Health Day, dental practices across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to display mental health awareness posters and to encourage dentists and other staff to talk about any issues or problems they are having.

‘Take 5’ posters have been sent to all dental practices as part of action agreed by a working group called ‘Probing Stress in Dentistry’. The group includes the British Dental Association (BDA), the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA), the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), the BDA Benevolent Fund, and the Public Health Agency (PHA).

The posters promote the Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing, which are: Connect, Be active, Take notice, Keep learning, and Give.

Speaking ahead of World Mental Health Day, which this year focuses on workplace health, Roz McMullan, Chair of the BDA Northern Ireland Council, said: “Stress is a reality for a lot of dentists working in all fields of practice. We know this, because the BDA and others have been doing research into the extent of the problem, and findings so far show some concerning trends.

“Recent BDA research shows that 39% of Community Dentists and almost half of General Dental Practitioners report high levels of stress, compared with an average of around 15% for all UK workers.

“We can, and often do, help ourselves to combat stress, such as talking it over with friends and family, exercising and putting in place good eating and sleep routines. But sometimes that is not enough, so if we reach out, then others can help to support us.”

Helen Gibson, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Officer with the PHA, said: “Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. Sometimes when stress is severe it can lead to burnout, with extreme emotional and physical exhaustion. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.”

Helen said that many of life’s demands can cause stress, including work.

“When you feel stressed, it can get in the way of sorting out these demands, or can even affect everything you do. We hope that the posters will raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing and encourage staff to feel able to discuss issues they are facing.”

The ‘Probing Stress in Dentistry’ working group was established in 2016 and aims to raise awareness of the problem of stress in the dental workplace and to highlight the support and training available to the dental workforce.

Courses available include Mindset mental health awareness; safeTALK suicide prevention training and Mental Health First Aid. To find out more about the current courses on offer for dental teams in Northern Ireland please visit  http://pha.site/MHtraining