BDA welcomes new dedicated mental health support for NHS dentists
21 October 2019
The BDA has 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.
Matt Hancock said that NHS dentists and doctors in England will have 24/7 access to confidential advice and support through NHS Practitioner Health if they have faced a stressful incident at work or feel they are struggling with their mental health. The service is currently staffed by 200 experts whose training is tailored to understand the specific circumstances of clinical life.
The BDA has long campaigned for such a service for dentists and last month launched a partnership with Health Assured to provide all BDA members with a 24-7 comprehensive and confidential counselling service.
The BDA's own research, published in the British Dental Journal, has found high levels of stress and burnout among the profession, with a fifth of respondents (17.6%) admitting they had seriously thought about committing suicide. Almost half of dentists surveyed by the BDA revealed that stress in their job is exceeding their ability to cope.
BDA Chair, Mick Armstrong said:
"The BDA's research over the past decade has consistently shown that many dentists experience unacceptably high levels of stress, with little or no formal help from government until now.
"Our researchers collected hard data on the worrying extent of stress and burnout in the profession and the factors that place dentists at risk.
"We used this evidence to make a compelling case to ministers that they could no longer ignore the mental wellbeing of dentists, whilst at the same time expecting them to deliver high quality care to patients.
"For too long practitioners in desperate need of support were either expected to suffer in silence, or struggle to access basic services, resulting in too many dentists exiting the profession early or worse.
"We're very pleased that the highly regarded, confidential NHS Practitioner Health Programme has now been extended to all NHS dentists across England, and the stigma and barriers to seeking help through mainstream NHS services have been removed."