As a medical professional, the wellbeing of others is always thrust upon you. It’s a demanding but rewarding job. Dentists are one of many medical professional groups which are feeling the strain of the job. The result; compromised and poor mental health is on the rise in the dental industry.
While it’s your profession to treat and repair teeth and gums, it’s in your best interest to take time to understand your mental wellbeing so you can continue to put smiles on everyone’s faces. As a dentist, you know the importance of regular care. To avoid cavities and infection, you’d likely advise patients to practice regular hygiene and cleaning. A similar method should be taken for mental health.
Mental health encapsulates our emotional, psychological and social state. It’s a broad term to define how we think, act and feel. It also determines how we react to external pressures like stress, as well as impacts of more continuous mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.
In a critical situation, good mental health can be vital to yourself and your patients’ safety. It’s important you understand your mental health and how to promote healthy living.
Mental Health Risk
When failure at your job can physically impact another person, there’s a high-stress factor in completing day-to-day tasks. As a dentist you’re responsible for the wellbeing of every patient in your chair.
When every surgery and check-up has a list of variables, it’s easy to let the ‘what ifs’ weigh on your mind. Not being able to distance yourself from work can cause various mental health issues and can cause burnout.
A 2007 study conducted by Kirsi Ahola and Jari Hakanen found a heightened exposure to developing burnout and depression among dentists. Several other studies have found that professionals and students in the medical industry are exposed to higher stress environments than other occupations.
In 2016, the Medical Journal of Australia undertook a retrospective mortality study of health professionals in Queensland. It found that in general, health professionals live healthier and longer lives than the general population. However, it also found higher levels of suicidal ideation and deaths among doctors, nurses, dentists and other medical professionals.
A descriptive study of mental health and wellbeing of doctors and medical students in the UK found that those in the medical field are having their mental wellbeing directly impacted by the industry requirements, which in turn, compromises their ability to take the best care for patients.
Your mental health can influence your ability to complete tasks, learn and create a positive work environment. It can also boost your enjoyment of life. If you are struggling with mental health, try talking to the Dental Practitioner Support Line: https://www.dentalboard.gov.au/.
For many people, poor mental health is a gradual process. Slipping into bad habits can gradually alter your mentality, similarly to how poor diet and exercise habits impact your physical health.
It’s important to remember that everyone is different, so there are no clear-cut examples of what early signs of poor mental health look like. Poor mental health can be brought about by trauma, stress, even body chemistry, and for some, it’s hereditary. No one reason controls mental health, but the following are broad signs that could show that help is needed:
- Sleeping and eating too little
- Lacking energy
- Mental numbness
- Lack of self-worth
- Constant stress
- Overindulging in vices (smoking, drinking, drug use, etc.)
- Feeling irritated, fearful, depressed, or easily agitated by others
- Mood swings
- Regularly battling with thoughts
- Feeling mentally blocked from being able to complete work
What To Do
Looking after your mental wellbeing is an important step in making sure you’re working at the best possible level. It also helps you improve self-worth and find joy in your craft.
Ways to maintain your mental health include:
- Consulting a professional opinion and further help if you need it
- Talking to someone
- Regular exercise and a healthy diet
- Routine sleep
Being a dentist is an enriching career path and helps put smiles on literally millions of faces. The high demands can cause burnout and other depressive emotions, but finding a way to maintain your mental health will improve your work and life.
At Dental Depot, we understand that dentists have a million things going on at once. That’s why we take as much stress away from them when it comes to getting new dental equipment and machinery. We are one of the leading dental equipment suppliers and dental maintenance specialists in Australia, and we’ve helped countless practices across the country through from purchase to installation. If you would like to learn more about how we can benefit your practice, get in touch with us today!