Your Mental Health Matters

The COVID-19 pandemic has given the dental industry an opportunity to discuss many topics, including the importance of mental health. During the Data Driven Dentistry survey last year, 21 percent of dentists responded that the one positive thing they could take away from their pandemic experience was spending more time with family and living life at a slower pace, making it the response with the most support behind it. At the end of the day, dentists, hygienists and other office workers are all human and need to be given time to rest and recharge.

A somewhat obvious solution, if you are experiencing poor mental health, is to improve your work-life balance. Allowing yourself and your team members to have enough time off is important, which could include holidays and vacation days. Encourage staff to use their vacation time and be sure to book off some time for yourself as well. This may require planning and flexibility on everyone’s part to ensure the practice flow continues, even when certain members are absent, but this is the point of having a great team behind you.

Having hobbies outside of the office will also be a huge help in creating a healthy work-life balance. Reading, meditating or watching television can all be excellent ways to escape for a little while and distract you from any stressful thoughts. Even better, take up a physical hobby such as jogging or a sport. This will help keep you in physical shape along with aiding your mental health. Of course, there are other habits that will also increase mental wellness such as having a healthy diet and getting enough sleep. These are the basics to consider if you are looking to improve your mental health.

Having a mental health or wellness plan in place at your office is something to consider implementing, as only 16 percent of dentists reported having one. Creating a wellness plan holds you and your office accountable for providing a non-toxic workplace for all team members. Some things to include in your plan are the promise of banning physically or mentally harmful actions and having a system to prevent them. An example of this would be the increased PPE and infection control protocols you all implemented during the pandemic to help reduce team stress regarding the possibility of contracting COVID-19. Other situations to include guidance on could be any office bullying, sexual misconduct or injury from equipment. Making sure all employees are aware of protocols and the support available in any of these cases will increase levels of safety.

You should also include mental health resources in your plan so staff members can easily access these services and know there is professional help available should they need it. Providing mental health benefits in their health benefits is another option to make these services even more accessible.

You are not in this alone. There are many services out there for you as a business owner that can assist with the creation and implementation of a wellness plan that is the perfect fit for your practice.

As seen in the print issue of Oral Health November 2021

*In late October and early November, 2020, Bramm Research, a third-party independent research house, conducted an online survey of active, practicing non-hospital affiliated dentists and dental specialists on behalf of Oral Health. Using Oral Health’s subscription list, a total of 407 completed surveys were tabulated. With a total sample of 407, the margin of error is plus or minus 4.7 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. If, for example, 50% of the sample indicated that agreed with a statement, then we can be reasonably sure (19 times out of 20) of an accuracy within +/- 4.7%. This means that a total census would reveal an answer of not less than 45.3% and not more than 54.7%.

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