Recognizing the toll that the pandemic has taken on dentists' wellbeing, the ADA recently announced "new resources and tools aimed at reducing stigma, raising awareness and providing readily available materials to support mental health and wellness among members."
Funded by a grant from Crest and Oral-B, the ADA's new initiative seeks to reverse a finding that many dentists are uncomfortable with the idea of accessing mental health resources for themselves or for a team member.
In a July 2020 poll, 92 percent of respondents "agreed that COVID had challenged the mental health of dentists." While the mental health and wellbeing needs may not be as acute now as they were at the height of the pandemic, the impact of longer-term anxiety, depression, and even PTSD should not be ignored.
The ADA is collaborating with Hope for the Day, a Chicago-based non-profit founded in 2011, to develop "a series of mental health and mental wellness resources over the next six months. Hope for the Day aims to raise the visibility of information and resources in order to shatter the silence and dispel stigma surrounding mental health."
Proactive Intervention Is Best
Just as dentists and hygienists urge patients to brush and floss to prevent oral health problems, it's best to take proactive steps to avoid more severe mental or emotional health issues later.
According to the ADA's press release, "Through their agreement with the ADA, Hope for the Day will produce a series of animated videos on how to recognize signs and start conversations with someone who may need mental health support.
"Additional resources will include a webinar and a fact sheet for posting in dental offices. The group will also develop messages for the ADA to share across social media to elevate this issue and connect members with available resources."
This is not an issue that will impact all dentists and team members equally. However, it is almost certainly one that will impact everyone to a greater or lesser extent. Awareness is always the first step in addressing a problem, and the sooner steps are taken, the more likely that a positive outcome will be achieved.
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