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Case study: Raising mental health awareness for dentists


Last Friday I had the privilege of giving the opening lecture at the New Zealand Dental Association conference.

To sum up the session, I’ll pass the baton to Dr Mo Amso, Chief Executive Officer at NZDA:

“It is with much pleasure that our Association launches the NZDA’s Wellbeing Strategy following over a year of research and development with our partners, Revolutionaries of Wellbeing (ROW). Fantastic to have Sarah McGuinness share her personal experience on burnout and wellbeing. Our dentists and dental specialists have endured ever increasing levels of stress and burnout. NZDA is here for you. Together, we will get through.”

Chris and I can’t speak highly enough of the NZDA and their desire to take a leadership approach to wellbeing across the whole profession. This isn’t about ‘fixing’ individual dentists, it is about addressing issues and providing solutions at three key levels: personal, practice, and profession. This is about creating generational cultural change that will take time, but will ultimately have far-reaching positive effects on the wellbeing of dentists and ways of working.

Many of you will know that taking a multi-layered approach to wellbeing is something that we advocate for often. Underpinning that is robust research. We conducted an industry-wide survey, focus groups, and 1:1 interviews with dentists and other key stakeholders which helped us understand the challenges, and the strengths and opportunities within the profession – of which there are many. It is a highly collegial, passionate profession that cares deeply about the health of New Zealanders.

We are excited to continue to walk alongside the NZDA in the roll-out process. Next stop – a roadshow across the length of the country! And we absolutely love the tagline: ‘It’s time to open up’ – so brilliant.

One parting thought: Popular culture, over generations, has type-cast a visit to the dentist as painful and expensive. On the way to the conference, my taxi driver even joked it was the only profession in the world where you could torture someone and then charge them for it. And yet what we heard was a profound care for patients. It made me want to start an ad campaign to ‘be nice to dentists, they’re really nice people’. So next time you’re at the dentist, give them a smile. I know they’ll appreciate the warmth and connection.

Want to read more the case study by sponsor MAS? Read now

What initiatives are you planning for mental health awareness in your workplace?
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