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LONDON, UK: Last week, the Mental Health Foundation celebrated Mental Health Awareness Week, encouraging UK residents to take stock of their psychological well-being. To mark the occasion, the Dental Professionals Alliance (DPA) has launched its Mental Health Wellness in Dentistry framework, an initiative that calls on dental practices to make mental health a priority.
The DPA’s Mental Health Wellness in Dentistry steering group is led by Fiona Ellwood, BEM, former dental nurse and practising mental health first aider, and Dr Roz McMullan, former president of the British Dental Association (BDA) and chair of the Probing Stress in Dentistry project. Through its framework, the DPA has sought to empower dental professionals in the UK to act in a timely and appropriate manner when identifying mental health issues in the workplace.
As Dental Tribune International reported last year, dentistry is a profession particularly prone to occupational burn-out, depression and countless other mental health issues. These issues have generally intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly since dental professionals have been exposed to a very high risk of contracting the virus in their daily work.
To help combat this, the DPA has issued a call for all British dental practices to appoint a mental health wellness lead to provide stress awareness training for all other staff members and to help ensure the continued destigmatisation of mental health issues in the workplace. Its approach is supported by numerous professional dental bodies including the BDA, Public Health England and the British Orthodontic Society.
Commenting on the initiative’s launch, Rebecca Cooper, head of the General Dental Council’s policy and research programme, said: “Conversations about mental health should be encouraged. Dental professionals should feel able to share their experiences and think about the steps that can be taken to improve and safeguard mental health wellness.”
“Produced from within the sector, this new framework provides clear and simple everyday guidance which promotes mental health wellness for all members of the dental team. Dental professionals’ mental health plays a vital role in the provision of safe, effective, person-centred care and this framework is an important step forward,” Cooper added.
The DPA’s Mental Health Wellness in Dentistry framework can be found here.