Stress and mental health remains still a largely under researched problem within the NHS, but one that has impacts our entire community, from professionals to delivering the best quality of care to our patients.
Just before I kick off a series of videos on mental health in the workplace, I wanted to research the current studies on this topic. I was surprised to see the lack of research in this field. There have been studies predominantly in the 1980s and more recent focusing on dental students, but few on the well-being of GDPs. Most of research has been focused on doctors and nurses.
One significant nationwide study conducted a random sampling of GDPs in the UK. They reported that a lot of GDP work related stress is linked to working within the NHS (H L Myers, L B Myers, BDJ 2004). Minor psychiatric symptoms were high, similar to doctors. Over half of GDPs reported backache, headache, difficulty sleeping and being tense or depressed. Running behind schedule and coping with difficult, uncooperatuve patients and working under constant time pressure, was rated as a ‘great deal of stress’ (H L Myers, L B Myers, BDJ 2004). Interestingly, females compared to males reported a greater lack of patient appreciation.
These findings are especially relevant as they highlight the stressful nature of dentistry, especially working within the NHS. Considering GDPs spend nearly 75% of their time working in the NHS (H L Myers, L B Myers, BDJ 2004), we need to develop interventions that enhance the health of our dentists.
Join me for discussing mental health with openness. Part of the problem, amongst professionals, is the fear of appearing weak by showing any vulnerability. I’d like to advocate Brene Brown’s research, that vulnerability is actually courage. Lets be braver and inspire each other to connect and help destigmatise mental health.