Financial anxiety – who can you turn to?
Zoe Close looks at the support for dentists whose mental health may have been impacted by the financial anxiety brought by COVID-19.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 crisis in terms of financial security for dentists and their families, it’s essential to understand who can support you.
The BDA Benevolent Fund, independent of the BDA, is the charity for all dentists, dependents of dentists and dental students, living in the UK.
You’re not alone
Money and mental health can be a vicious cycle. Worrying about money can negatively affect your mental health, which in turn can make managing money more difficult. According to a recent study, a quarter of people experiencing mental health problems are in debt, and people with mental health problems are three times more likely to be in financial difficulty. Add the enforced lockdown and resulting social isolation due to COVID-19, and the pressure could leave you feeling alone in your troubles.
She said: ‘Since the beginning of lockdown and when dentistry ceased operating in its normal sense of the word, we had six months’ work come in at that time, so that’s a huge increase.’
Despite the large increase in demand, Ros is adamant that the charity will work to meet the needs of all its applicants.
At its core, the BDA Benevolent Fund’s primary function is to offer practical, financial support with personal money troubles as opposed to those needing help with running a dental practice. This includes offering grants to help pay for essential living expenses as well as funding towards training for those involved in GDC proceedings or returning to dentistry.
The charity also addresses the mental health stressors that financial anxiety can bring by offering an assistance programme. This includes free-access counselling sessions, as well as a confidential, 24/7 helpline, enabling people to talk to professionals with issues relating to physical or mental health problems.
How do you get access to the support?
As a pre-emptive action, the charity offers an online budget planner to help you gain a better understanding of your household expenses – breaking them down into categories and providing tips to help you save money in certain areas.
For those in urgent need of financial aid, you can apply online via the BDA Benevolent Fund’s website. We consider and tailor each request to help meet what you most need, ensuring we cover essential living expenses first, such as rent/mortgage/utility bills and food. Where appropriate, we will also signpost you to other avenues of support.
If you would like to learn more about the BDA Benevolent Fund and how it can help you, you can visit our COVID-19 Resource Hub and watch a webinar with Ros Keeton, call 0207 486 4994 or visit www.bdabenevolentfund.org.uk.