Modern society is increasingly frantic and the associated stress is frequently ignored or discounted as being a normal part of life. The dental workplace presents many features that are known to be particularly associated with stress, and not surprisingly, members of the dental team are no strangers to stress. But rather than simply accepting it as inevitable, stress needs to be tackled effectively or it can cause burn-out. Stress can erode a dentist’s physical and emotional health, creating strain for relatives and colleagues, but less obviously, perhaps, the impact on patient safety is also potentially severe. While distracted by the worry of an existing case, a clinician’s judgement and performance can very easily be impaired to such an extent that a second event is more likely to occur. This is especially likely when worry or stress is affecting a clinician’s sleep patterns and it can take the form of actual mistakes, slips or lapses of concentration, or interpersonal communication problems.
Many of the causes of stress for the dental team are work-related; a dependence upon equipment and technology, long periods of concentration while carrying out exacting technical procedures, relentless time pressures, dealing with anxious or difficult patients, heavy workloads and regulatory compliance are just a few examples.
DPL has now launched a counselling service worldwide after similar services in New Zealand and South Africa received positive feedback from members who used them. Professional help with stress and anxiety is often the best way of identifying and dealing with the issues that are at the core of the problem.
Counselling is a ‘stress-busting’ activity. Talking to an independent, neutral but caring person allows clients to be open about the stressful situation, without losing face. Because the counselling services are available either by telephone or as a face-to-face meeting, it is possible to speak to a counsellor at the time which is most convenient. Telephone counselling is a 24/7 service, and it fits particularly well into busy lives. Online counselling – a real-time, ‘chat’- based service – is an alternative way of
seeking help and support at any time, day or night for those who might prefer this approach.
PPC is the leading global provider of Employee Assistance Programmes. They will look for practical solutions to issues, rather than unravelling the past.
Accessing the DPL counselling service
The DPL counselling service is available to members who have experienced an adverse incident or dento-legal issue and are experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties as a result. This may take the form of finding oneself less able to cope effectively with the various pressures of a complex professional and personal life, or feeling yourself becoming overwhelmed by things that you might
normally have handled without too much difficulty. An unwillingness or reluctance to confront problems and any tendency to procrastinate or put them at the back of your mind or distance yourself from the unwelcome reality of the source of the stress, are all well-recognised signs that you are suffering from stress – whether or not you think of it in these terms.
If you feel you might benefit from accessing the counselling service, simply contact the dento-legal adviser handling your case in total confidence, and they will provide you with contact details. If you have not reported a dento-legal matter to DPL, but are suffering from stress due to an adverse incident or dento-legal issue, you can also contact DPL and ask to speak with a dento-legal adviser. You may be surprised at how helpful it can be just to be able to talk things through in total confidence with a sympathetic and independent colleague.
PPC Worldwide offers a service tailored to the individual’s requirements and it is delivered by fully trained, qualified and registered psychologists and counsellors, all funded by DPL. The service provided by PPC is entirely independent and confidential – Dental Protection will not be informed of any contact that members have with PPC.