Mental Health Wellness in Dentistry – New Initiative Launches

This week (10-16 May), sees Mental Health Awareness Week and to coincide with this important event, a new dental initiative has been launched to encourage all dental workplaces to make Mental Health Wellness a priority.

The Mental Health Wellness strategic steering group was formed through the Dental Professional Alliance, specifically to co-design, develop and maintain a framework that encourages and enables all dental professionals to act in a timely, appropriate, and safe manner when identifying Mental Health Wellness issues in the workplace. The strategic steering group has been led and Chaired by Fiona Ellwood BEM DPA, a trained and practising Mental Health First Aider, and Roz McMullan, Chair of Probing Stress in Dentistry in Northern Ireland.

The initiative has gained widespread support from across dentistry, with a large number of endorsing partners including the Royal Colleges of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, General Dental Council, Chief Dental Officer of Scotland, Chief Dental Officer of Wales, Acting Chief Dental Officer of Northern Ireland, FGDP (UK), College of General Dentistry, British Dental Association, British Orthodontic Society, Association of Dental Groups, British Association of Dental Therapists, British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy, Society of British Dental Nurses, Orthodontic Therapists Society, Orthodontic Technicians Association, British Institute of Surgical & Dental Technologists, British Association of Clinical Dental Technology, British Society of Paediatric Dentistry, Public Health England, Denplan, Dental Laboratories Association and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England.

So, why now? Mental health is never far from front page news and it has a longstanding association with dentistry. When in fact when you look closer this appears to be associated with dentists rather than the whole team. To anyone that understands the intricacies of being part of a dental team and especially the clinical team, it is difficult to perhaps see why there have only ever been papers and research on dentists. Yes, there are added pressures, but if pressures spill over it can very quickly become a team matter. Support for the whole team is varied across settings (primary and secondary care), and across team members and yet mental health knows no such boundaries, and this was the driver and start of the work from the Dental Professional Alliance.

There have been several papers produced during the pandemic about stress, anxiety, and burnout, most have again focused on the dentist. When you look to the NHS in general, it talks more broadly of frontline staff, although much has been written about the nursing teams too. Whilst we know that stress, anxiety, and burnout are not mental illnesses we know that they can add to mental health issues. In an almost timely fashion, the Office for National Statistics1 has only last week published the data on Coronavirus and Depression in Adults and this paints a worrying picture. Double the number of adults have experienced depression symptoms in comparison to the pre-COVID statistics. In Jan – March 2021 1-5 (21%) have suffered with depression symptoms, with an increase from Nov 2020, which was 19%. Notably, the evidence shows that 4-10 cases are young adults and female.

In complete coincidence, Humphris et al2 published a paper looking at health and wellbeing as an outcome of uncertainties of the pandemic in dental team members. “Of 329 respondents the researchers report that 27% appear to have reported significant depressive symptomology and 55% appear to suggest that they have suffered emotional exhaustion”. Interestingly the paper suggests that primary care staff reported higher incidences. What is of great interest is the recommendations, which clearly suggest that there could be benefit of “resourcing staffsupport and interventions to help team members in [challenging times].”

Not only does the Humphris et al2 paper speak to the whole team it touches on the narrative of resourcing staff support and interventions, which takes this full circle and right back to the principles of the extensive work recently undertaken by the Dental Professional Alliance and stakeholders, who have designed a framework introducing the need for a mental health wellness lead in every dental setting with an underlying ethos that early intervention and safe signposting is paramount.

The initial call to action from the initiative is that each dental workplace should have an identified individual who acts as a ‘Mental Health Wellness Lead’ and who through a recognised training programme is confident, competent and committed to improving the perception of mental health wellness in the workplace. This forms part of a 6 part process:

  • All members of dental team to undergo Stress Awareness Training
  • Identify Mental Health Wellness Lead
  • Leads to undertake MHFA training
  • Design workplace action plan
  • Join local peer support networks
  • Complete annual training and maintain skills

Roz McMullan said, “No one should feel alone or unable to talk to someone at work and for this very reason, this ‘Call to Action’ asks decision makers and line managers to adopt this cultural change to Mental Health Wellness in the dental workplace and commit to the recognised training pathway.”

Fiona Ellwood added, “We want this mental health wellness to deliver real change in the dental workplace through a plan of practical advice and action. We will work with partners to provide leadership, support, and direction on joint work. We will work with employers, local teams and professional partners in UK to oversee implementation of the framework. Fundamentally, we want to see a Mental Health Wellness Lead in every practice and place of dental employment across the UK.”

The General Dental Council (GDC) has also welcomed the launch of the initiative. In support, Rebecca Cooper, Head of GDC Policy and Research Programme, said: “Conversations about mental health should be encouraged. Dental professionals should feel able to share their experiences and think about the steps that can be taken to improve and safeguard mental health wellness. Produced from within the sector, this new framework provides clear and simple everyday guidance which promotes mental health wellness for all members of the dental team. Dental professionals’ mental health plays a vital role in the provision of safe, effective, person-centred care and this framework is an important step forward.”

For more information about the initiative and how you can get involved, please visit:

Simplyhealth Partners With McFly’s Harry Judd, Backing Campaign To Highlight The Role of Nature In Managing Mental Wellbeing

  • The musician and mental health champion has teamed up with Denplan’s parent company, Simplyhealth, and the Mental Health Foundation to embrace the mental wellbeing benefits of the natural world.
  • To inspire the nation to ‘Take a Breath’, they have created a free downloadable e-book, packed full of ideas and activities to connect with nature.
  • For each copy downloaded, Simplyhealth will donate £5 to the Mental Health Foundation.

Simplyhealth, Denplan’s parent company, has partnered with McFly musician, Harry Judd, and the Mental Health Foundation on a new campaign to shine a light on how connecting with the natural world can support our mental wellbeing.

The Take A Breath campaign – launched during Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 – will see Simplyhealth provide the nation with the tools and resources to better understand their mental wellbeing and embrace the positive benefits of nature on their psychological and emotional health.

Mental ill health on the rise

Unfortunately, mental ill health is common, with rates of anxiety and depression on the rise. This has been amplified by the ongoing pandemic, which has dramatically changed the way we work, live and socialise. For instance, a survey undertaken by Simplyhealth in 2020 revealed that 42% of UK adults felt their mental health had suffered since the outbreak of Covid-19[i].

However, there is an abundance of research which shows that the natural world plays a significant role in supporting mental health, from reducing stress and easing anxiety to increasing positivity and inspiring creativity.

New downloadable ‘Take a Breath’ e-book

To help people to look after their mental health, Simplyhealth, in collaboration with Harry Judd and the Mental Health Foundation, has created a new e-book titled ‘Take A Breath’, which is packed full of ideas, exercises and activities to inspire readers to connect with nature.

The e-book is free to download from the Simplyhealth website and includes personal anecdotes and advice from mental health champion Harry Judd, as well as insight from the Mental Health Foundation into the link between nature and wellbeing.

For each download of the e-book, Simplyhealth will donate to the Blue Prescribing Project, a joint project between the Mental Health Foundation and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. This initiative aims to tackle poor mental health through hands-on nature-based activities, and will see 300 people needing mental health intervention given access to wetlands nature.

Harry Judd, musician and Simplyhealth partner says“I’ve suffered with OCD and anxiety throughout my adult life, to the point that I was frightened to even leave my house. In those moments, I felt scared to share how I was feeling. Anxiety can be so isolating and sometimes makes you lose yourself. When I finally found the courage to reach out and ask for help, I felt so relieved – it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. 

“It’s easy to forget that our mental wellbeing is every bit as important as our physical health. If you break a bone, you seek medical help, yet many people are hesitant to ask for support with their mental wellbeing. I completely understand the courage it takes to speak up but reaching out for help was the best thing I ever did.

“Embracing fitness and the outdoors has also been a fundamental part of my personal mental health battle. Whether it is in the park, at the beach or in the garden, I believe that spending time in nature, embracing the fresh air and getting our bodies moving can benefit our mental wellbeing and redress the balance in our lives.

“I’m supporting Simplyhealth’s Take A Breath campaign as I want to help others who may be going through similar experiences with their mental health. As part of the e-book, I’ve created a nature-inspired activity checklist with the hope of giving people some everyday ideas for making the most of nature and the great outdoors.”

Catherine Rutland, Clinical Director at Denplan says: “Looking after our mental health and wellbeing isn’t always easy. However, there are actions we can take to help maintain balance, and a vast body of research supports the idea that spending quality time in and around nature reduces stress and increases feelings of positivity.

“Through the Take A Breath campaign, we hope to provide information, activities and tips that are fun and inspirational. Our aim is to encourage people to experiment with what works for them and their circumstances. It’s time to seize the power of nature and take a step – however small – to nurture and protect our mental wellbeing.”

Mark Rowland, CEO at the Mental Health Foundation says: “Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it is almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world.

“At the Mental Health Foundation, we know that by working with organisations like Simplyhealth, we can reach more people to help them experience the benefits of our natural surroundings. With the challenges of the last year, there could not be a more important time to understand the links between nature and mental health.”

How Simplyhealth can help

The way people think and, more importantly, talk about mental health has changed for the better, but too many people still suffer in silence. For instance, 1 in 4 will be affected by a mental illness, yet almost two-thirds will never seek help[ii]

Through its healthcare plans, Simplyhealth offers access to 24/7 online GP, physio, counselling and advice, in addition to coverage for a variety of everyday health and wellbeing needs, from £7.50 per month. The free to use SimplyMe app is also a great tool for tracking mental and physical wellbeing. With daily mood and emotional health check ins, it shows users how to make simple changes to their normal routine that will support their overall wellbeing in the long term.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, Simplyhealth will donate a further £5 to the Mental Health Foundation for every 20 minute walk that is recorded on the SimplyMe app.

To find out more about Denplan, visit or click here to download the Take A Breath e-book.

The SimplyMe app is available to download via the App Store or Google Play store.

Roz McMullen introduces a new wellbeing resource for the dental team (S03 E02)

Former BDA President Roz McMullen joins The Probe Dental Podcast to discuss Wellbeing Support for the Dental Team, a Mental Health and Wellbeing Resource recently released for the dental industry.

Roz played a vital role in bringing the resource to life as part of a wider team, which she talks about in this episode, as well as how it came about and why it is important.

You can find Wellbeing Support for the Dental Team at, where you can download a copy for free or provide feedback, as the resource will be continually updated.

Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify and more:

Roz McMullan

And for the first time, you can watch this episode of The Probe Dental Podcast on Facebook:

The Probe Dental Podcast is presented by The Dental Awards.

The Dental Awards is the original and most respected awards programme in British dentistry. 2021 marks the 22nd anniversary of the Dental Awards, and over the decades, this prestigious event has recognised the outstanding individuals and teams whose commitment and drive continue to raise standards throughout the profession.

The Dental Awards is attended by over 600 clinicians each year. Winning, or being a finalist, is a tremendous accolade and provides a massive publicity boost to the profile of your practice and your team. After all, who wouldn’t want to be treated by the Dentist or Dental Team of the Year?

The Dental Awards are sponsored by B.A. International, Colgate, Colosseum Dental, Dental Elite, and Water Pik. The Probe and The British Dental Conference & Dentistry Show are official partners.

For more information, please visit

For more from The Probe, visit Theme tune courtesy of Bensound.


Introducing a new wellbeing resource for the dental team

Launched 18th January, the guide Wellbeing Support for the Dental Team has been created for all dental team members, including students and non-clinical roles.

It outlines how to assess your own mental health and wellbeing and provides resources for self-care, including the range of organisations available to support you.

The truth is, as dental professionals, we recognise the importance of mental health and wellbeing for our patients. However, we may not always recognise or prioritise our own mental health needs. Stress is common amongst the dental profession and is a key driver of burnout and mental ill health. These problems can affect individuals at any stage of their career.

For a variety of reasons, there has traditionally been a reluctance amongst the dental profession to speak about and seek support for their personal problems, including mental health.

It is time to put an end to that. There is strength, not weakness, in asking for help, and to that end, Wellbeing Support for the Dental Team, offers simple and practical step to know where you can find the support you need.

Simply visit to download your free copy.

Dental Protection calls for GDC leniency as third of dentists say fear of investigation is affecting mental wellbeing

Dental Protection has called for the GDC to take a lenient approach to complaints related to the treatment of patients during this Covid-19 crisis.

This comes as a Dental Protection survey of over 500 dentists – which was completed by dentists following their return to practise – shows that a third (33%) feel their mental wellbeing is worse than two weeks ago. 55% of dentists in the same survey said that working in unfamiliar ways is a key concern, with 33% also saying that fear of regulatory investigation is having the most impact on their mental wellbeing.

In a letter to the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which oversees work of all professional regulators of healthcare in the UK, Dental Protection has stated that guidance for the GDC and other regulators is needed that would provide more reassurance on the issue of when an investigation would be conducted or not.

Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection said: “Dental professionals have faced a range of challenges throughout this pandemic, and many have now returned to practise in equally in unsettling and challenges circumstances – working in different ways, worrying about their health and that of their patients, and facing a backlog of patients with problems potentially due to the delay in treatment.

“The GDC and other regulators proactively issued a joint statement in March confirming they will fully consider the context which dentists have been practising in during this time when reviewing any complaints they receive. While we welcomed this statement, we believe members would welcome clear guidance from the PSA which would demonstrate in more detail how the regulators will ensure a proportionate approach will be taken, especially as it will likely be a number of years before such complaints might be handled and at a point when memories of this time have faded. A more lenient and considered approach to investigations seems entirely appropriate given the unique circumstances.

“The pressure and stress involved with working in unfamiliar ways, and the prospect of a regulatory investigation down the line, is clearly taking its toll on dentists’ mental wellbeing. I know that more reassurance on this issue would be greatly valued by our members who are doing their very best for their patients.

“I would also like to remind members of our counselling service for those experiencing work-related stress. The service is provided through a third-party partner and is completely confidential.”

The survey was conducted by the independent market research organisation, Research By Design ( It ran from 18th to 29th May and achieved 506 responses from dental members in the UK.