Amid rising reports of poor mental health among dental professionals and uncertainty about where to seek help, the Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP(UK)) has welcomed the recent launch of Confidential and the NHS Practitioner Health Programme.
According to the 2019 Dentistry Confidence Monitor report, 84% of National Health Service (NHS) dentists and 51% of private dentists believe their current role has negatively affected their mental health. Most dentists also are anxious about the risk of complaints and unhappy about their ability to do their job without feeling overly stressed.
Meanwhile, a recent Dental Protection survey said that half of its member dentists had considered leaving the profession due to personal wellbeing. Research from the British Dental Association has shown that almost a fifth of dentists have seriously considered suicide.
However, 72% of dentists in the dentists in the Dentistry Confidence Monitor report said they weren’t sure where they could turn to for support. Now, there’s Confidential.
GDP Jeremy Cooper established Confidential, a helpline that offers emotional support for dentists from fellow dentists, after hearing the tragic story of a fellow dentist who took his own life.
A team of trained volunteer dentists operate Confidential’s 24-hour helpline, available to listen confidentially and non-judgmentally to the personal or professional concerns of callers, who may remain anonymous. The volunteers also are armed with information about where callers can turn for further help.
Confidential is still recruiting volunteers and seeking further funding. Its organizers encourage those who are interested to email email@example.com.
Dentists in England experiencing ill mental health or addiction problems also can seek support from the NHS Practitioner Health Programme, a recently launched service available to professionals whether or not they practice under an NHS contract.
Via a helpline and text messaging service, the program offers free consultations and talking therapy appointments with specialist practitioners, either remotely or in person. Professionals can use pseudonyms if they wish to ensure confidentiality, and a choice of named practitioners is available for treatment.
Additional programs providing mental health support for dentists include:
- The Dentists’ Health Support Trust provides dental professionals with free support and advice on mental health, alcohol, and drug issues. It reports an 80% success rate in helping dentists overcome their problems and getting their lives back on track.
- The British Doctors and Dentists Group is a mutual help group for doctors and dentists who are recovering or who wish to recover from addiction to or dependency on alcohol or other drugs.
- The BDA Benevolent Fund supports dental students, dentists, and their families in financial need whether or not they are or were members of the BDA.
Contact information includes:
- Confidential: 0333 987 5158, 24 hours a day
- NHS Practitioner Health Programme: 0300 030 3300, 8 am to 8 pm Monday through Friday and 7:30 am to 2:30 pm on Saturdays
- Dentists’ Health Support Trust: 0207 224 4671 and firstname.lastname@example.org
- British Doctors and Dentists Group: 07792 819 966 and email@example.com
- BDA Benevolent Fund: 020 7486 4994, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm weekdays, and firstname.lastname@example.org