Mental health matters – Julie Deverick – BSDHT

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  Posted by: The Probe      3rd May 2019

 

In recent years, mental health has taken the spotlight in healthcare, and this can only be described as a very good thing. After all, mental health can affect so many parts of our general health and can often be far more devastating than physical illnesses too. Furthermore, mental health conditions are also far more common.

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Additionally, in England alone, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression every week.[i]

What’s interesting is that these numbers have remained steady throughout recent years, but despite this, particular mental health disorders have become highly prominent within society. For example, it’s estimated that 6 in every 100 people will suffer from anxiety, whilst depression affects up to 3 in every 100. Mixed anxiety and depression (people suffering from both) has an even higher incidence, with almost 8 out of every 100 people struggling with these disorders. However, it is only now that these conditions are becoming more visible, and better measures being taken to understand them and offer the appropriate support.

So what’s the reason behind this? One theory is that the tougher job market and money issues are making it much harder for people to cope. It is likely that these factors are fuelling the increasing numbers of people self harming and experiencing suicidal thoughts.[ii]However, as mental health is so complex, it is impossible to narrow it down simply to financial pressures and there are myriad other reasons why people may develop depression, some of which are emotional and can even stem from personality type, and others which may be triggered by events such as illness or bereavement.[iii]

What is particularly interesting is the effect that mental health has on people’s oral health. It’s well known that individuals suffering from depression or anxiety are more likely to let their oral health fall by the wayside, but there is further research to suggest that disorders such as depression inhibit the body’s ability to fight off inflammatory responses – the primary symptom of gum disease.[iv]

So how can we, as professionals help? It is important to offer all of our patients appropriate care and cleaning advice, but especially those who may be suffering from mental health issues. It’s very difficult to tell whether people are suffering from these conditions, but perhaps you can inspire conversation and your patients opening up by introducing leaflets and other mental health related materials into your waiting room or surgery.

The 11th– 17thMay 2019 is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this is the ideal opportunity for professionals to raise awareness of these invisible conditions. Created by the Mental Health Foundation, this week is also a good chance for you to talk to your patients about mental health and the effect this can have on their teeth, especially if it inspires them to speak up and make you aware of any mental health conditions they may be suffering from.

You can also host fundraisers at your practice – events like these can help support a good cause whilst also educating patients. Additionally, it simultaneously lets them know that they are welcome and understood if they are suffering from mental health issues, further helping people with these conditions to no longer feel invisible within the community.

Mental health is complex, but professionals need to be able to offer support. By taking the time to understand various conditions, you can ensure your care is better suited to those who need a safe, welcoming space.

 

For more information about the BSDHT, please visit www.bsdht.org.uk

call 01788 575050 or email enquiries@bsdht.org.uk

 

[i]Mind.org. Mental Health Facts and Statistics. Link: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.XIY8-xP7TuQ[Last accessed March 19].

[ii]Mind.org. Mental Health Facts and Statistics. Link: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.XIY8-xP7TuQ[Last accessed March 19].

[iii]NHS. Causes – Clinical Depression. Link: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/clinical-depression/causes/ [Last accessed March 19].

[iv]Dentistry.co.uk Depressed Young Adults More at Risk of Oral Health Disease. Link: https://www.dentistry.co.uk/2018/12/20/depressed-young-adults-risk-oral-health-disease/ [Last accessed March 19].


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