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‘Its OK not to be OK’: Hope for the Day offers mental health resources at SmileCon

October 11, 2021

By Kimber Solana

Photo of Hope for the Day
Color: Dr. Kristin Green, of Jopin, Missouri, (right) colors in a Hope for the Day color-by-number mural on the exhibit floor while dental hygienist Kathleen Ang, of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, looks over the artwork.

Las Vegas — Imagine your mind was a bottle of soda.
   
Experiences from all aspects of life shake the bottle and build pressure. That pressure is looking for somewhere to go. And if not released, it can continue to grow and affect one's daily life.
   
When SmileCon attendees visiting the Hope for the Day booth on the exhibit floor — Dental Central — were asked, “What’s shaking your bottle,” the answers were wide ranging.

They included staff and family drama, trying to be what everyone expects, the COVID-19 pandemic and patients refusing to wear a mask in the dental office.
   
“We are here trying to give you guys a break … we’re just trying to remind you to take a moment for you,” said Becca Milligan, staff member of Hope for the Day, a Chicago-based nonprofit focusing on mental health that has partnered with the ADA New Dentist Committee to let attendees be more mindful of their mental wellness.


Their presence at SmileCon is just the latest in a series of resources made available to support ADA members in their mental health journey. Others have included a breathing exercise video, Take Care of Yourself video and info sheets Mental Health and the Dental Profession and Mental Health and the Workplace, which are posted at ADA.org/wellness. Hope for the Day aims to raise the visibility of information and resources in order to shatter the silence and dispel stigma surrounding mental health.
   
Over the last year, the ADA has been developing new programs to support dentists and team members in focusing on physical, mental and financial health. This effort is driven by an expressed need from members for more tools to help them overcome the multi-faceted effects of COVID-19. Surveys indicated that members were experiencing a range of emotions over the past 18 months: worried, overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, concerned, hopeless and defeated.

At the dedicated booth on the exhibit floor, Hope for the Day encouraged visitors to be creative with a color-by-number mural that states: “It’s OK not to be OK.” In addition to “What’s shaking your bottle?” visitors were asked “What gives you hope?” to guide members in focusing on aspects of life that make us feel good.

Additional videos, materials and activities will support dentists and their teams in making mental health a priority for themselves and colleagues.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health, and there’s a stigma that stops a lot of people from talking about it,” Ms. Milligan said. “But the more people talk about their mental health, the more others will feel more comfortable talking about mental health.”

Booth activities are made possible in part through a generous grant from Crest + Oral-B.

Visit ADA.org/wellness for additional wellness resources.