Supporting mental health for patients and practice teams

Posted by Lisa Humble on 11/03/2019
Lisa Humble - Academy Trainer

By Lisa Humble, Academy Trainer, Simplyhealth Professionals

As part of our role as bespoke trainers, the Academy team are always looking at new topics that can help practice teams in their day to day roles. Our aim is to offer practices information and training on current issues that they would find interesting and relevant to the whole team and to assist in the care of their patients.

One of the subjects that comes up regularly as something that affects everyone is mental health. Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will have mental illness at any one time, so it is very likely that dental practices will have to treat patients with mental health issues. As with many disorders, mental health has various levels of severity, however, it is important to realise that at any level, oral health can be affected.

Mental health is a difficult disorder to recognise, as some patients are very good at masking signs and do not always find it easy to discuss their mental health, due to the stigma that is attached to the associated disorders.  Also some patients may have the concept “why would my dentist need to be aware of my mental health issues!”

Our module “Making your practice, mental health friendly” examines the different types of disorders that you may encounter and how they may have an impact on, not only oral health, but general wellbeing, which can lead to lifestyle choices which are likely to increase the risk of oral cancer and or periodontal disease.

The module not only explores adults but the increasing number of children who are diagnosed with mental health issues, which can have a lifelong impact on oral health.  We provide information about the medication used to treat some disorders which can directly affect oral health. We ask the practice team to develop top tips, to assist patients with mental health issues. Although these are just suggestions as each patient needs to be given individualised care.

There is a second part to the module, which practices can opt to do as part of the overall mental health module or do it separately. This part of the module has a focus on mental health in the workplace and the importance of having an open culture, in regards to discussing mental health issues and offering the right support and assistance. It also offers tips for members of the team to help keep themselves mentally healthy.

We believe that your practice will enhance your existing knowledge and develop your awareness of the links to mental health and oral health by taking part in this course.

It is an emotional subject and some members of the team may be personally affected by mental health issues, so it is important that you discuss this with your employees prior to the delivery of the module.

The length of time to allocate for your training day will be from an hour and a half to three hours, depending on if your practice decides to focus on the mental wellbeing of patients alone or add information in regards to staff mental health.

To find out more about The Academy and the training we offer visit https://www.denplan.co.uk/dentists/events-and-training/denplan-academy