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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.

Almost half of dentists say stress in their job is exceeding their ability to cope, with the most stressful aspects 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 experienced suicidal feelings.

Supporting you through periods of stress or burnout is an important part of what we do. We are also working to understand the underlying reasons for low levels of morale and job satisfaction in the profession.
There are many resources available to support our members and non-members during periods of stress.

 

Confidential counselling for members

All our members have access to Health Assured, a confidential service designed to help you deal with personal and professional problems that are affecting your wellbeing. Members can access the helpline 24/7, 365 days a year.


  • Life support: Face-to-face counselling sessions to support you at your convenience
  • Legal information: Advice for you on issues such as debt management, accountancy, lawsuits, consumer disputes, property or neighbour disputes
  • Bereavement support: Experienced counsellors to support you through grief and a team of legal advisors to support you practically
  • Medical information: Qualified nurses are on hand to offer advice on a range of medical or health related issues
  • CBT online: A range of CBT self-help modules, informative factsheets and advice videos from leading qualified counsellors.

Find out more: 

Health Assured

 

Support options for dentists

Across the UK


The following resources are available to all dentists, members and non-members, across the UK:

 

  • Our free online tackling stress course helps you identify the triggers of work-related stress, how to spot the signs and how you can overcome it
  • Wellbeing support for the dental team helps you understand 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 (DHST) offers advice and support for dental professionals affected by addiction and mental health concerns: 0207 224 4671 (every day 7.30am – 10.30pm)
  • British Doctors and Dentists Group (BDDG) offers support to doctors and dentists who are recovering, or wish to recover, from addiction: 07850 125119, natsecretary@bddg.org
  • Dental Protection offers a confidential counselling service for DPL members living with stress or anxiety associated with complaints such as litigation or dental council hearings: 0800 561 1010 
  • NHS staff support includes wellbeing guides, apps and events. Find out more at NHS People.
  • The BDA Benevolent Fundprovides financial and emotional support for dentists and dental students (past or present) in times of need or crisis: 020 7486 4994
  • 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

The NHS Practitioner Health programme offers free access to confidential advice and support - staffed by experts whose training is tailored to understand the specific circumstances of clinical life.

 

Northern Ireland

The following services and resources are available to dentists and their teams in Northern Ireland: 

 

  • This Wellness Resource includes useful links to the support available to dental teams
  • This guide to mental wellbeing contains support for the whole dental team
  • Inspire NI have put in place a GDS Assistance Programme, offering 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.
  • Bereavement support is available for you and your loved ones through the Family Support government website
  • Lifeline 0808 808 8000 is a free 24/7 support service based in Northern Ireland.
  • Suicide awareness courses are run twice a year inside and outside Belfast by NIMDTA
  • 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.
  • If you are concerned you may have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, contact the NI Doctors and Dentists Group, Dr. John Burtondrjburton@btinternet.com on 028 7963 3265 or 07710 741 169, where you will find confidential professional help and support.

Scotland

We have worked with the Government to producemental health and wellbeing resources for dentists and their teamsacross Scotland. This highlights guidance and support resources available to you when you need support.

 

The NHS Occupational Health Advice and Guidance Service, introduced in June 2018, offers support if you are experiencing stress and is delivered through the NHS Boards. During the pandemic, we worked with the Government to produce a summary of mental health and wellbeing resources for dental teams which lists services you can access when faced with stress.


Wales

We have been working with Senedd Members, Health Boards and the Government to address the gaps in support that research has uncovered. Since the COVID-19 Pandemic, NHS dentists in Wales have had access to Canopi, the service formerly known as Health for Health Professionals.


The mental health of dentists in Wales has been a key priority for us throughout the pandemic. The results of our first survey on the impact of the pandemic on dentists' mental health has been published in the BDJ and presented to the Welsh Government. The results of our second survey will be published shortly, and presented to the Welsh Dental Committee, including the new Welsh CDO.

 

What you've told us about stress in dentistry

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)


The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a large impact on dentistry, with staff going to work even when they are not feeling well enough. In Wales, a survey found high levels of stress, with 82% of respondents saying that stress levels within dental teams have increased noticeably.


Read more: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of dentists in Wales, BDJ  232 44-54 (14 January 2022)

 

Non dentistry support groups

If you, a colleague, or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, poor mental health or recovering from addiction, you are not alone. Here are some organisations that can provide advice and support:


Suicide

CALM - 0800 58 58 58 (every day 5pm – midnight)

Support to prevent people from losing their lives to suicide.
 
PAPYRUS - 0800 068 4141 (every day 9am – midnight), pat@papyrus-uk.org, text 07860 039967

Confidential help and advice to support young people with struggling with thoughts of suicide. 

 
Samaritans - 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)

Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

 
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide - 0300 111 5065 (every day 9am – 9pm)                     

Support to those bereaved by the suicide of a close relative or friend.

 
Maytree - 020 7263 7070 (every day 10am – 6pm)
A sanctuary for people experiencing suicidal thoughts and support to relieve feelings of despair and isolation


Mental health 

Anxiety UK - 03444 775 774 or text support – 07537 416905 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm excluding bank holidays)
Support for people living with anxiety disorders.

Mind - 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm excluding bank holidays)
Support for people living with or supporting a loved one with poor mental health.

No Panic - 0300 7729844 (every day, 10am-10pm)
Support to individuals (and carers of people) living with anxiety disorders including panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

OCD Action - 0300 636 5478
Support for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) offering them information on treatment and online resources.

Stress prevention and management in the workplace

ACAS0300 123 1100

Free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law.


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.

NHS Choices
Comprehensive health information online, including information and guidance about health, support and social care services in England.


Bereavement and relationships

​Bereavement Advice Centre -0800 634 9494 (Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm excluding bank holidays)

Advice and information on a range of practical matters following a death.

 
Cruse Bereavement Care -0808 808 1677 (Mon and Fri 9.30am – 5pm, Tue, Wed, Thu 9.30am – 8pm, Sat and Sun 10am – 2pm)

Support, advice and information after a bereavement.

 
Relate
Relationship support and advice for all people


Addiction

Alcoholics anonymous - 0800 9177 650

Support for individuals recovering from alcoholism.
 
Narcotics Anonymous - 0300 999 1212 (every day 10am – midnight)

Support to help you get and stay clean.


WithYou

Services to help transform the lives of people affected by drug and alcohol problems.