Bringing mental health to the fore

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  Posted by: The Probe      24th May 2021

It is important for everyone to focus on their mental health, to make time for themselves and their mental wellbeing. This pandemic has stretched us to our limits and we can all see how important it is to find strategies that work for us. To be able to care for others, you have to take care of yourself. In the dental profession, we have to be aware and alert if we are to continue supporting patients and colleagues.

Since this pandemic began, the media and difference of opinions, as well as the lack of freedom and social interaction, have kept emotions running high for many people. We have seen individuals make some major life decisions, like moving to home countries or cities, going back to education or changing roles. The pandemic seems to have provided the motivation for what have been quite positive changes for many individuals – and this is not unique to dentistry. Within our profession, I think working in a clinical environment makes our roles so much more rewarding and knowing that we are supporting the NHS at this time helps us to carry on.

That said, it has still been incredibly challenging. New rule and regulations, long hours and complicated home lives have all increased stress levels. In order to improve our mental health and maintain it, we need to be proactive. As everyone has different personal circumstances, one of the best solutions people can use is talking. It might be cliché, but it is true that a problem shared is a problem halved. Even if solutions can’t be found immediately, speaking about them can help people realise they are not alone in their feelings, providing a healthy outlet for frustration or concerns. This can also be a great way of discovering new coping strategies, as well as gaining support and inspiration for everything from smoking cessation to dealing with diagnosed health conditions and self-screening for systemic diseases. This interaction goes one step further to strengthen working relationships and friendships between colleagues, creating a support network now and for the future. No-one can be at their best when their environment or personal concerns are impacting their everyday life. We all need a circle of influence to encourage positive change from the constant challenges that life has thrown at us for more than a year now.

While crucial for dental practice teams who are patient-facing, it is just as important to support operational and management teams and ensure their mental health as well. They cannot efficiently help practice teams and, in turn, patients, if they are not in a good place themselves. From a management point of view, it is crucial to understand the anxieties that operational team members have when meeting people in-person where necessary, changing the way they work, wearing PPE, reorganising childcare, home-schooling and so much more.

At Rodericks Dental, the wellbeing of our people is a priority at any time, but we have focused on it even more during the pandemic. Teams across our practices and support centre are very close and our culture is non-hierarchical and open, so we utilise those relationships to support each other.

The wellbeing of our operational, management and practice teams has been a central topic to conversations and we have shared links to support networks or useful apps, and encouraged everyone to tell their stories. We remain engaged, here for them and happy to listen and support them in any way we can. We also made use of tools like MindMap, offering valuable information on a wide range of health topics and enabling everyone to interact and support each other.

Our confidential, free Employee Assistance Programme has also been appreciated by our people, which is available for employees and their family members if they want to use it. We have also been running wellbeing blogs on our intranet and highlighting initiatives relevant to our business, our people and the wider NHS, with important links, relevant discounts, appropriate training opportunities and stories from our people included. Most recently, we presented “Time to Talk”, associated with the NHS, focused on raising awareness about mental health. This was accompanied by a video call with a panel of employees from HR, operations and facilities, as well as a quiz about mental health myths. This sparked some great conversations and led into a Q&A for people to speak openly about coping mechanisms, approaches to supporting others and their own mental health struggles. Everyone who took part got so much out of it and felt uplifted – it is something we will repeat.

For me, a business culture is everything and, ultimately, it will be one of the biggest reasons why you stay with a dental provider in the long-term. What we have at Rodericks is so unique – it’s a family within a growing business and that’s hard to come by. When it comes to talking about wellbeing and mental health, we know our biggest challenge is making sure every one of our people on the front line knows we are here for them, ready to listen and help however we can. We will keep going and the door will always be open.

 

For more information on the career opportunities available at Rodericks, please visit www.rodericksdentalcareers.co.uk,

or contact Ashley Lillyman at recruitment@rodericksdental.co.uk or on

01604 970988 (option 1)

#wearerodericks

 

Author:

Jenna Hartley, Head of HR, Rodericks Dental


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