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Tackling stress in dentistry

We want to find out what the causes of stress are, so that we can find solutions to support dentists and to help foster positive working environments.

Promoting wellbeing and looking at the causes of stress and burnout are key strategic aims for us, and we are investigating 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.


Our research into stress in dentistry

We do research into finding out the causes of stress in dental working environments and we work on solutions to coping with stress and burnout in the profession.


Our recent study found that nearly half of dentists say stress in their job is exceeding their ability to cope. The most stressful aspects of their role are related to regulation and fear of litigation. Environmental factors, such as the NHS dental contract in England, especially the pressure to attain UDA targets – we have been calling for a reformed dental contract to be implemented.


Read some of our research:



What support can dentists access?

Across the UK, the levels of support and access to services to help dentists cope with stress has been patchy.


We've also 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.


Region-specific services for NHS/Health Service dentists are highlighted below. Here are the UK-wide resources, with any dentists can access:


UK-wide resources


  • If you need support urgently then go to your local A&E department, call Samaritans on 116 123 or contact the 24/7 crisis support line by texting NHSPH to 85258

  • 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:
  • 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
  • Financial support: The BDA Benevolent Fund is also available to help dentists who are experiencing financial difficulties
  • Local BDA groups: 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
  • NHS staff support includes wellbeing guides, apps and events. Find out more at NHS People.


Health Assured


Here are the region-specific services which are available for NHS/Health Service dentists:



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

Health Service dentists in Northern Ireland can access the following resources, as well as the UK-wide resources listed above:


  • Occupational Health and Inspire NI counselling are available to all dentists in NI and DCPs in the salaried services and are accessible by self-referral.
  • 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.
  • Dentists in Northern Ireland can access Lifeline NI, tel: 0808 808 8000
  • Stress awareness and management training is available for all GDC registrants on the CPD hub in two one-hour modules.


BDA Scotland and the Scottish Dental Practice Committee have made great strides in getting dentists access to the NHS Occupational Health Advice and Guidance Service. This service offers support to those experiencing stress, delivered through the NHS Boards. You can also access the range of UK-wide resources above.



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.


Other organisations

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


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


​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 - 0845 390 6232
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