This month I have chosen the topic of mental health to discuss with you all. The term ‘mental health’ is used frequently in the media and in different contexts within our daily conversations.
This topic covers such a wide scope of conditions and the varying degrees of these conditions. It covers issues including stress, anxiety, self-esteem and depression. These issues are on the increase due to our busy working lives and lifestyles. Approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, and in England, one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety or depression) in any given week. It is important to me that other health professionals understand that ‘feeling down’ or ‘just not feeling like yourself’ is OK, and that there is help and support available to you.
Every year we complete our CPD on safeguarding adults and children, but we don’t learn about looking after ourselves. Reading this article is a way for you to take a step back so that you can think how to get the best out of your own personal wellbeing and create a healthy work/life balance.
Dental nurses will have different experiences depending on the practice that they work in. For example, their employers, pay, fellow colleagues and even the way that patients behave towards them. I think we have all been in situations where we haven’t even been acknowledged by a patient and it can be a bit degrading – but I bet most of these patients never even realise that they have done this.
A lot of health professionals put a brave, smiley face on at work and behave in a positive manner towards their patients and the people around them – but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are feeling this way inside. People may also be dealing with personal issues that others aren’t aware of. If you are one of these people, it’s important that you seek the help you deserve. If you are feeling down, it’s important that you to speak a family member, someone in your workplace, or an organisation that can give you the support that you need.
Getting into a positive mindset is crucial for helping you feel more positive about yourself and what is going on in your life. Here are some points on how to achieve this:
- STOP. Take yourself out of autopilot - doing the same thing over and over again without thinking. Take time to reflect on your life. Try not to ignore your body when it is trying to tell you something is not right and consider working through your emotions. https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_david_the_gift_and_power_of_emotional_courage
- Reduce internet and social media usage. https://www.ted.com/talks/adam_alter_why_our_screens_make_us_less_happy
- Sleep – a good night’s sleep solves a lot of issues; it helps your body to repair and also helps you to deal with the way that you interpret and process information. The recommended amount is between seven and eight hours per night.
- Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
- Have a nutritious diet.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Exercise – twenty minutes of exercise a day is great for relieving stress.
- Try taking up a new hobby such as a sport, reading or a hobby that you enjoyed previously which you would like to do again.
- Find time for yourself. (I know that this is easier said than done.)
- Get the best out of your career – try starting a new course to improve your knowledge and skills.
- Believe in yourself. Avoid putting yourself down.
- Talk about things that are worrying you.
- Journalling - try writing down your concerns. This can also help you get clear on what your concerns really are and help you think about resolutions.
There many organisations out there to offer support, and the NHS has listed some of them on the webpage that is linked below. Use this to get the best advice for you:
If you’d rather speak to someone in person, you can go and see your GP and ask them what help and support they can offer you or what services are available in your local area.
The main point is: don’t suffer in silence – make sure you get the help you deserve.
Thank you for reading.
Emma Leather RDN, OHE, PTLLS, TAQA, IQA
Emma works part-time as a dental nurse and part-time as an author, assessor and internal moderator for Dental Nurse Network.