Associations Launch Programs to Provide Mental Health Support to Members

Since the pandemic started, mental health has been top of mind for many individuals and employers. Two associations have started programs to help their members cope with anxiety, depression, and other job-related stressors.

With more attention on mental health and well-being in recent years, there have been a variety of resources offered by employers and public agencies. Associations are stepping up to the plate too: Recently, both the American Dental Association and the New York State Sheriffs’ Association (NYSSA) launched programs that provide mental health support to their members.

The ADA initiative, the Wellness Ambassador Program, aims to tackle the increased anxiety and stress its members are facing.

“Our 2021 Dentist Well-Being Survey Report indicates wellness topics are in need: 84 percent of dentists experience physical pain while working and anxiety has tripled,” said Hana Alberti, senior director of ADA’s Center for Dental Practice Policy, which oversees the Wellness Ambassador Program. “Member surveys show dentists lack consistent access to resources, therefore our goal is for these ambassadors to open dialogue at state and local levels.”

ADA’s wellness ambassadors serve a two-year term that will kick off with training at ADA headquarters in November. During their term, ambassadors will share wellness information with other members.

“Each ambassador will commit to a minimum of two projects, with the goal of showcasing resources and supporting knowledge transfer—whether it’s delivering a webinar presentation, hosting a podcast, writing an article for their state Journal, or presenting at a local dental school,” Alberti said.

The ADA program is launching with just 10 dentist ambassadors to test its effectiveness and incorporate feedback to help ensure the program’s sustainability. Even though it’s starting small, ADA hopes the program will expand.

“Ambassadors may be asked to identify two additional dentists from their state who could serve as ambassadors in a future cohort and share resources,” Alberti said. “The spirit in which this program is being developed is to create a grassroots group of dentist leaders who can spread the message with others so there is a ripple effect, such as raising awareness and sharing links, PDFs, and best practices.”

ADA isn’t the only association looking to help its members. NYSSA’s new wellness program will be available to the state’s 58 county sheriff’s offices. Its goal is to help members “manage stress and cope with grief, depression, anger, and other emotions that may stem from job-related stress.”

The NYSSA program includes the following benefits: access to employee assistance programs, crisis and trauma training, school resource officer support, and a 24-hour “confidential peer-to-peer hotline staffed by deputy sheriffs and other personnel from around the state to provide early intervention and keep stress from escalating or manifesting.”

(Ponomariova_Maria/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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