Dental Nursing, Mental Health and Anxiety

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK

As a company that is passionate about helping people, we thought it was important to be a part of the conversation.

Mental Health Matters every day of the Year but it’s thrust into the spotlight on the 15th-22 May.

Mental health problems can affect anyone and according to Mental Health UK, one in four of us may be impacted at some point. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘anxiety’. Whilst we will all experience anxiety on occasion when anxiety starts to build up it can become a problem in all aspects of your life.

Finding healthy coping strategies to help overcome feelings of anxiety is a huge part of what goes towards making a happy and successful workplace and no more so than in dental practices.

As a dental nurse, you will be no stranger to working in a high-pressure environment and soothing anxious patients but it is important to also make time to look after yourself.

It is common for people working in a healthcare setting to feel reluctant to speak out when experiencing problems of their own and dentistry has a high rate of burnout making it all the more important to normalise conversations around mental health.

Open conversations and communications are vital. You wouldn’t neglect your body so why neglect your mind?

When you spend so much of your life caring for other people and ensuring their well-being it’s all too easy to put your own self-care and mental health to one side. The increased public awareness in recent years of mental health and its impact means that we are hopefully better placed to speak more openly about our own struggles.

The Labour Force Survey (LFS), a national survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics, reported that in 2020/2021 50% of all work-related ill health cases were attributed to stress, anxiety or depression.

Additionally, higher rates of stress, depression or anxiety were found in health professionals.

Most of us rush around brushing feelings of anxiety, stress and worry but when we keep it pushed down for too long that’s when burnout can occur and we may find ourselves in an increasingly worsening situation mentally.

Why not use this Mental Health Awareness Week to really take a good look at how you’re feeling? Reach out to someone close with any worries you might have and also take the time to be mindful of colleagues and their feelings.

It’s vital to tackle the stigma around mental health by normalising these conversations. It can make all the difference to your patients and teammates by just regularly checking in to make sure they’re ok. It is just as important to do the same for yourself and when you feel anxiety is getting on top of you think of ways to cope.

Anxiety can be something you can tackle with some self-care but if it becomes overwhelming then don’t be afraid to seek help for yourself and your colleagues.  It’s to something you have to suffer through as there are people and resources to help.

Mental Health UK has a fantastic resource around how to open up a conversation around mental health and it also includes some signs and symptoms to be aware of. Connection isn’t about having loads of friends and family, it’s about feeling a sense of belonging and being seen whether that’s in the workplace, at home or in the community.

As we live in increasingly stressful times, mental health should be high on the list for both practices and individuals alike. We’ve put together some resources below to get you thinking about how you might be able to better help yourself, your colleagues and your patients.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Download a Mental Health Information Guide

Download Wellbeing Support for the Dental Team

BDA Health Assured Employee Assistance Programme

Rethink Mental Illness

Clic – a free online community for support with mental health

Mental Health Conversation UK guide