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Mental Health and Wellbeing at work

White letter tiles on scrabble boardThe Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 [1], imposes duty of all employers to ensure health, safety and welfare at work of all employees. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 [2], requires employers to carry out a risk assessment of any health risks, including stress, for their employees.  It is a legal requirement to record the significant findings of the risk assessment if there are five or more members of staff in the practice; however, all practices are strongly advised to do this, as evidence that a risk assessment has been carried out is a requirement of the Combined Practice Inspection [3].

There are many resources available to support mental health and wellbeing. One resource developed specifically for dental teams is the FDI World Dental Federation [4] digital toolkit for Mental Health and Wellbeing in the dental workplace which provides a three-step action-oriented approach (Determine, Do, Discuss) at different levels of intervention (Individual, Organisational, National) to improve mental health and well-being.

The three-step approach, with links to suggested external resources, is presented below.

Organisational (workplace) level suggestions are directed at practice owners, practice principals and managers to help them create a supportive workplace to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their dental team. Workplaces may include dental practices, dental clinics in hospitals, universities, community settings and dental technician laboratories.

Individual level suggestions that may be of interest to members of the team are also provided.

National level of intervention includes advocacy, prevention and action strategies. These national level interventions are outwith the remit of the PSM, and therefore examples of these interventions are not included here.

Organisational (workplace) level:

Determine

Find out if your workplace is an environment which supports wellbeing by using the FDI assessment tool to identify which of the six key domains supports your workplace wellbeing. Demands, Control, Support, Relationships, Role and Change.

Complete a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Health and Safety Risk Assessment including stress  (see Risk Assessment template July 2021)

Public Health Scotland – Healthy Working Lives  has produced Stress in the workplace a free online learning resource, that includes a “how to” carry out a workplace stress risk assessment.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have Stress at work learning resources and stress risk assessment template.

Do implement prevention and proactive strategies

Follow the steps in Mental Health Wellness in Dentistry road map.

Sign up to the Mental Health Wellness in Dentistry charter.

Identify a staff member to be the practice mental health wellness lead.

Support for dental teams has a resource ‘Wellbeing Support for the Dental Team’

The Working Minds Talking toolkit provides suggestions and templates for starting conversations amongst staff and employers to identify risk factors for workplace stress, and a resource hub  for

NHS Education for Scotland TURAS website has psychosocial mental health and wellbeing support learning resources for NHS staff for taking care of yourself and others.

The FDI toolkit offers a list of suggestions with web links for additional resources.

Discuss positive changes in the workplace with colleagues

Encourage all staff to attend and contribute to staff meetings where wellbeing matters can be raised

Individual level:

Determine

Assess your sources of stress (stressors) at work.

Consider utilising the FDI toolkit assessment template to rank stressors in order of importance and ease to change.

Do

Take action to change the way stress is affecting you at work. NHS Inform Mind to Mind has examples of things others found helpful.

The FDI provides a list of techniques that may help e.g. coping with the physiological manifestations of stress, making your environment less stressful, changing your behaviour, changing your thoughts and making a plan.

The Dentists’ Health Support Trust (previously Dentist Health Support Programme) is a confidential helpline that provides resources, guidance and referral to support services as required.

NHS Scotland provides Mental Health Support Occupational Health Advice and Guidance to its employees.

Talk to colleagues, friends and family about your feelings.

Seek support from health professionals.

Discuss your experiences with others at work

Take opportunities to talk about techniques that have benefitted you in improving your mental health and wellbeing.