No need to suffer in silence – help is out there

No need to suffer in silence – help is out there

Nigel Jones discusses the mental health and wellbeing challenges that more and more dental professionals are facing, and how to find help if you need it.

For whatever deep-rooted reason, I have always felt my purpose in life is to help make people happier and more confident. Work or social, a one-off meeting or a decades long professional or personal relationship, it’s all the same to me. My aim is to leave them feeling better about themselves and more equipped to meet life’s challenges, which seem to be intensifying almost daily at present.

And while I believe I have achieved that aim for many in dentistry during the course of my career, I’m also aware that there are sadly an escalating number of situations that require intervention of a more specialist kind that is beyond my experience or rudimentary training. That’s why I will always be grateful for the existence of fantastic organisations like Confidental, The Dentists’ Health Support Trust, the BDA Benevolent Fund and NHS Practitioner Health.

When do we say enough is enough?

The need for such wonderful organisations has never seemed more apparent. Indeed, during one of my periodic reviews of what’s new in respect of mental fitness issues affecting healthcare teams, I stumbled across an article published last autumn by NHS Practitioner Health entitled ‘Mental illness and suicide: when do we say enough is enough?’. It makes for very interesting, if sobering, reading.

Given 40% of new presentations to the service are general practitioners, the article is understandably focused on GPs rather than dentists. Although a GP survey provides the bulk of the content, a quick perusal of the individual cases shows a huge amount of commonality of thought and feeling between the two types of healthcare professionals. 

‘It’s like running on a treadmill that you can’t get off unless you fall’

Examples such as ‘it’s like running on a treadmill that you can’t get off unless you fall’, ‘I’m stressed, overwhelmed and terrified of making a mistake’ and ‘the system itself feels like a sinking ship with no lifeboats’ all sound very familiar to someone who has spent over three decades supporting GDPs.

Two of the statistics on display really hit home. Almost half of the 98.16% of respondents whose health had been affected by the demands of the job had not sought help. And yet almost half of those who completed the survey reported having thoughts of ending their life in the last 12 months, either occasionally (35.4%) or frequently (13.50%). It’s unlikely to be the same half.

I know much of the above is not news, but the issue is not reducing; it’s getting worse. The numbers presenting to NHS Practitioner Health sadly demonstrate this. So, I make no apology for taking the opportunity afforded by my regular column to remind us all of the help that is out there.

If you’re considering your options away from the NHS and are looking for a plan provider who will hold your hand through the process at a pace that’s right for you, why not start the conversation with Practice Plan on 01691 684165 or book your one-to-one NHS to private call today at

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