Helping dentists with problems

Substance misuse, followed by depression and anxiety has been highlighted as the leading cause of problems among dentists and doctors, according to a new publication.

The first annual report of the Practitioner Health Matters Programme (PHMP), which has been set up to support health professionals who may have addiction or mental health issues, helped 47 practitioners in its first year of operation. Of those, 30 presented with a single problem and ı7 had more than one problem at registration. Substance misuse was listed as the presenting problem in ı5 cases, with anxiety listed in six cases and depression in four.

The vast majority of practitioners presenting with the PHMP were non-consultant hospital doctors (49 per cent) and GPs (30 per cent). Dentists made up only six per cent of registrants with the service, a total of only three clinicians.

PHMP chairman Hugh Kane said: “We have supported nearly 50 practitioners in our initial period. These practitioners have family and work colleagues who are also benefitting from having their family member/colleague back, recovered and fully functioning.

“The major challenge following our start up phase is to put the programme on a solid financial footing. We also would like to continue to raise awareness and to reach out to all practitioners who are experiencing a mental health or addiction difficulty.”

The PHMP is an entirely independent and confidential service and operates separately from the regulatory and professional bodies. However, the programme has the support of, and memorandums of understanding with, both the Dental Council and the Medical Council as well as the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland. It has also been recognised by the Irish Dental Association, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, the Irish Medical Organisation and the Irish Pharmaceutical Union.