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New program aims to support dentists’ mental wellness

Hope for the Day to provide new mental wellbeing resources

March 29, 2021
Photo of Hope For The Day
Action: Hope for the Day was created in 2011 by Jonny Boucher, who decided it was time to take action and encourage others to seek help through educating individuals and allies after seeing too many of his friends die by suicide.
The last year has been a challenging one for the dental profession. In addition to profound financial impacts, dentists reported the pandemic has impacted their mental and emotional health, according to a survey conducted by the New Dentist Committee.

In response to these findings, the ADA is developing new programs or enhancing current offerings to support the financial, physical and mental wellness of dentists and their teams. In particular, the ADA is focusing on developing new resources and tools aimed at reducing stigma, raising awareness and providing readily available materials to support mental health and wellness among members. These new programs and resources are made possible through a generous grant from Crest + Oral-B.

"This really hits home for so many new dentists. Having a community through organized dentistry to turn to means a great deal right now. Personally my mental health has been impacted by the pandemic, and I understand the need for dentists to have resources on mental health and know where they can go to get help." said Jarod Johnson, D.D.S., a member of the ADA New Dentist Committee, the group that spearheaded this effort. "We need to remember that our mental health is important to our overall health, especially as health care providers."

In July 2020, 311 new dentists responded to a survey from the New Dentist Committee to determine how they were impacted and rebounding from COVID-19. When asked to describe their current emotional state in one word, dentists said they were: worried, overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, concerned, hopeless and defeated. There were significantly fewer instances of positive feelings. In fact, 92% of respondents agreed that COVID-19 has challenged the mental health of dentists. These feelings echo national trends of elevated mental health conditions and increased suicide rates from heightened anxiety, isolation and many other stressors over the last year. Yet many dentists indicated they are not comfortable seeking out mental health resources for themselves or a staff member.

The ADA is seeking to change this.

Hope for the Day, a Chicago-based nonprofit focusing on mental health, has engaged the ADA in developing a series of mental health and mental wellness resources over the next six months. 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.

Hope for the Day was created in 2011 by Jonny Boucher, who decided it was time to take action and encourage others to seek help through educating individuals and allies after seeing too many of his friends die by suicide. The group has partnered with several organizations to specifically support military veterans, youth outreach and scientific research, among other efforts to reach target groups.

Image of Hope For The Day logoProactive prevention is about creating an environment that doesn’t wait for someone to reach a point of crisis to address their mental health. In doing proactive prevention, individuals step up to take action and facilitate the conversation on mental health in their spaces, and offer resources in hopes of avoiding ever reaching the crisis point.

Hope for the Day will draw from their experience in developing and disseminating physical and digital resources to more than 1 million people across the globe in 17 different languages to develop customized materials for the ADA and its members. Hope for the Day education programming is aimed at providing community members with the proper knowledge and tools on mental health care to help them achieve proactive prevention within their community. For the collaboration with the ADA, these materials are intended to support dentists as well as their dental teams.
Through their agreement with the ADA, Hope for the Day will produce a series of animated videos on how to recognize signs and start conversations with someone who may need mental health support.

Additional resources will include a webinar and a fact sheet for posting in dental offices. The group will also develop messages for the ADA to share across social media to elevate this issue and connect members with available resources.

The collaboration with Hope for the Day is first of two aimed at supporting dentists’ mental health and wellness. The ADA is also engaging NAMI Chicago, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to develop other complimentary resources. More details on both programs will be shared as resources become available.

Find out more about Hope for the Day at www.hftd.org and visit ADA.org/wellness for ADA resources.    

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