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House resolution targets student wellness

November 17, 2014

By Kelly Soderlund

The House of Delegates is encouraging dental schools to incorporate free ADA resources on emotional health and drug and alcohol misuse in their curriculum.

Resolution 34H-2014 also encourages state dental societies to support the effort through state-sponsored well-being programs. The Council on Dental Practice presented the resolution following a report from the Dental Wellness Advisory Committee expressing concern for the health and well being of dental students.

The committee’s goal was to provide educational resources and support for dental students affected by addiction, burnout and/or depression.

“We want to reach students before their addictions or emotional issues progress,” said Dr. Brett Kessler, member of the Dental Wellness Advisory Committee. “We see devastation with dentists with these types of problems as they get on with their lives. Some have lost their licenses; they’ve lost their houses; they’ve lost their marriages; they’ve lost their practices. The earlier we get to them to let them know of their options, the sooner they can get the help they need.”

A 2006 study featured in the British Dental Journal showed 86 percent of dental students reported drinking alcohol, with 44 percent estimating they drank above the recommended safe limits. Binge drinking was reported by 71 percent of dental students, with 27 percent saying they binge drank weekly.

Forty-four percent of the dental students reported they used marijuana and 7 percent said they used ecstasy and amphetamines.

The report submitted to the House also referenced a study on dental students’ emotional well being. A 2013 report by the University of Seville’s Department of Medicine stated that 51 percent of fourth-year dental students experienced burnout while 15 percent were screened positively for depression.

To access online ADA resources on mental health and well being, visit
well-being in the dental industry
or mental health.