Suicide in Dentistry

Suicidal thoughts are a common symptom of many mental health illnesses. Understandably, these feelings are kept hidden and often normalised. Please reach out to others and although presently nothing but being free from the anguish of your thoughts is what you long for the most, there is hope and a road to recovery.

Frank conversations on suicide and well-being are paramount in our profession. We are all on the mental health continuum. Depending on your life circumstances, you too may find yourself being mentally pushed to the edge. The more we open up and connect with others on our struggles, the more we can fight the stigma around mental health and the need to be anything less then ‘perfect’.

For those afraid to go to their GP, you can see a psychiatrist privately. Medication and talking therapy have been proven modalities that make a world of a difference.

Things you can do right now to help yourself: work on getting good quality sleep, strengthen social networks, eat well, exercise, mindfulness, spend time in nature and stay away from drugs and alcohol as it makes the lows far worse.

Please feel free to reach out anytime. There are also a number of services for our profession that you can access – Confidential, a 24 hour helpline, Nhs Practitioner Health Programme where you can receive 4 sessions of psychotherapy and Dentist Health Support Programme.

Preventing back pain

I’m shining a spotlight on an inspiring, generous and humble woman I went to university with but only recently had the pleasure to get to know whilst working in Greenwich – Chanpreet Kalsi 🙌🏾

I am very excited to have her speaking at this year’s Big Vision conference on the importance of pyshcial wellbeing in Dentistry, specifically preventing back pain.

Chanpreet is the co principal of Hermes London Dental Clinic in Westminster. One year ago her career almost came to an end because of a back injury caused by a decade repetitive strain from long clinical working hours. Osteopathy and medication only helped short term. It was only when she turned to her PT and learnt how to strength train outside of work that the back issues went away forever. She set up @strength4successcpd and now her and her PT go to dental practices together to help dentists prevent career ending back injury!

To hear her speak, and the many other amazing speakers, follow the link. All proceeds go to Mind 🥳

30th November 2019 at Lumiere, London.

Make exercise work for you

What are your fitness goals for this year?

As dental professionals we put our backs in all sorts of compromising positions. Physical wellbeing is clearly relevant to us but so many struggle with finding the time (me included! 🙈)

My solution for this is to make exercise work for you. If you’re anything like me, a contract with the gym never works out longterm. So why not incorporate exercises into your daily routine that are possible at home? I am currently using The Yoga Collective – an online yogi community with tonnes of great classes. Its currently on Groupon for a fiver for 3 months, which is a steal! Altentatively, YouTube has some awesome workouts and Down Dog is a great free yoga app.

I always start a habit small so I am sure to achieve the goal and stay motivated. And its these small steps forward that create positive habits. So the next time you find yourself giving in to your excuse that you just don’t have the time or finances, try making exercise work for you 🙏🏾

Illustration by @AshStaTeresa

Emotional resilience: The armour for modern life

I am very excited, humbled and grateful for Mike Gow and the team at Dental Town to be on the front cover of this month’s issue with an article, with psychotherapist and accredited life coach Samantha Morris : Emotional resilience: The armour for modern life. Thank you to Shalin Kapoor for bringing the article to life with his creative photography.

Dentistry is a rewarding and demanding career – yet chronic stress needn’t come with the territory. Emotional resilience can be strengthened just as our academic skills are boosted.

To have a read, please follow the link below:

Dental Wellness Survey

An infographic on the key stats from my latest Dental Well-being Survey

As expected, the stress levels in our profession are high and a big proportion of us suffer from burnout without seeking support or having adequate coping mechanisms to help themselves. Chronic stress can lead to a dramatic crash, taking time off or leaving dentistry entirely.

Dentistry obviously has its stress points but it need not mean we need to accept stress comes with the territory! Emotional resilience can be strengthened through training, just as we train our muscles at the gym.

Key themes

I have collected data from 245 respondents, conducted 3 detailed focused interviews so far now and the themes below crop up again and again.

🤯 Time is a big challenge

🤯 Unforgiving perfectionism – coping with the high pressures opposed by ourself/GDC/CQC and feeling like we are falling short

🤯 Type A personality – belief that we can keep going and being productive despite reaching exhaustion

🤯 Not priortising self care and mental wellbeing

🤯 Physical manifestations of stress being the final straw to getting help or taking note of mental wellbeing

🤯 Negative inner critic where negative thoughts can run in an ongoing cycle, triggered by stress points in our day

🤯 Excessive thinking – unable to stop rumination away from work

🤯 Fear of failure and litigation

🤯 An overall feeling of impending doom, feeling caught out or not being good enough – essentially Imposter Syndrome

Next steps

Focus interviews will be continuing throughout June and July. I will be recruiting dental professionals for an intervention study to start from August. This will be complimentary 4-6 workshops in a London location, based on basic neuroscience and psychology principles, created by a team of dentists, medics, therapists and psychologists. The concept of the intervention is to help empower the individual to create tools to enhance mental well-being. The results will be compared to a control group and help to create one solution to help minimise stress and prevent burnout.

I am very passionate in learning more about your challenges and help create solutions to really support you. Sending lots of love and light as always.

Thinking distortions

Stress, anxiety and depression are caused by an ongoing cycle of negative thoughts 🔄 These thoughts cause physical feelings and emotions which in turn cause negative behaviours.

Do you recognise any of these thoughts in your daily chatter? The first step to mental wellness is the regular checking with yourslef and really getting familiar with the messages and themes of your thoughts. Try setting aside a time in your day to reflect on your messages and emotions. You may find journalling or apps a really useful tool in self reflection.

An evidence based approach to help break this cycle is creating tools that target each component through a technique called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. More on this next time 🙏🏾

The Guesthouse

Arizona Awinita, known for her wisdom, gentleness and compassion, was the elderly hostess of a quaint hotel – The Little Fawn.

This whitewashed hotel sat nestled between trees brimming with fruit and dazzling with wisteria. Guests had the pleasure of hearing the soft lull of the ocean and the coo of the birds.

Every morning a new arrival would turn up at the doorstep of The Little Fawn. Sometimes a traveller would arrive especially joyful and energised to be exploring this part of the world. Laughter would echo through the walls of the hotel and new friendships forged.

Other times, an unexpected visitor, full of sorrows, would make their way to the hotel. With a heavy heart, they would share with Arizona their stories of missed opportunities, failures and shame. She would softly encourage them to open up – each moment honouring their story with warmth, courage and respect.

Each guest, whether bearing joy or dark thoughts, Arizona welcomed them all at the door smiling, inviting them in. She knew even the seemingly unwelcome guests would depart in time. She remained grateful for whoever came, as each of them she believed, were sent as a guide from beyond.