Dental students face wellbeing crisis

British Dental Association Benevolent Fund reveals the results of a first-of-its-kind survey into financial and wellbeing issues faced by dental students, disclosing that a staggering 90% of students feel stressed or burned out, and 74% believe Covid-19 has impacted their mental health

The British Dental Association Benevolent Fund (BDA BF) has revealed the findings from the first-ever survey into the financial and wellbeing needs of UK dental students.

Conducted in October and November 2021, the survey was designed to explore the financial and wellbeing issues facing dental students, to help the charity increase awareness and improve support.

Most shockingly, the report revealed high proportions of students experienced wellbeing challenges, most notably stress or burnout (90%) and performance anxiety (77%). Around half of students were also impacted to some degree by severe wellbeing issues such as depression (55%) and bereavement (50%).

Covid-19 had a significant impact, with 74% saying the pandemic had increased their need for wellbeing support (74%). The transition to online classes and the suspension of wider university activities were highlighted as major contributing factors. However, only 33% of students had accessed some support for their wellbeing.

In terms of financial stressors, 74% of students stated that financial issues impacted them to some degree during their studies. The main contributing factors were mental health (61%), family circumstances (59%), final-year funding changes (46%) and business closures linked to Covid-19 (44%). Despite this, 51% of students stated they had not accessed financial support even though they had experienced money problems.

Dr Ros Keeton, chair of the BDA BF, commented, “This report reinforces the pressure and wellbeing issues that we have in not just dental students, but in the profession as a whole. It reinforces our understanding of how difficult the scenarios are that people are facing and how anxiety-making they are. We, in the UK, need to say, ‘that’s not a good place for a profession to be in’, and we need to look at ways that we both train and support younger dentists in particular through that.

“I hope that the profession collectively responds to the survey. Because I think that’s where the answer is – it’s in the collective response – it’s not about passing the buck.”

View a full copy of the report here: