Dentistry.co.uk speaks to Keith Hayes about Confidental and how it can help dental colleagues.

What is Confidental?

Confidental is a telephone helpline service manned by dedicated dentist volunteers who have received training in listening to colleagues who are in a state of emotional distress.

We aim to help callers find their way to a solution and are often able to signpost callers to the most appropriate organisation who can help them. We can listen, be empathetic and understand a caller’s anxieties.

We are non-judgmental and interested (rather than interesting) recognising that the caller may have no-one else with whom to share their anxiety.

What made you set this up?

The personal experiences of the four founder trustees – myself, Jeremy Cooper, Jenny Pinder and Lauren Harrhy – with the exponential growth of Facebook sites such as Mental Dental.

Keith Hayes of RightPath4.com was moved to be a founding member of Confidental, following on from receiving over 30 approaches from distressed dentists in the last three years. Many of these callers appeared at weekends, bank holidays and late evening and some on his doorstep. An analysis of the primary issues showed that these often, although not always, commenced with investigation by the regulators.

When we had meetings with organisations in dentistry, they asked whether such a service was necessary. Jeremy Cooper was instructed to ‘find the answer’, as many of these organisations were not totally convinced of the need. He raised the question on the Mental Dental Facebook group and nearly 1,000 responded and dozens of postings and messages followed including contact by many influential members of the profession. The profession had spoken and Confidental was born! Thanks to the hard work of the trustees the idea has become a reality.

Why is Confidental different to the Samaritans or other helplines?

Confidental is a dental-dedicated helpline operated by dentists who have often experienced very similar worries.

Callers do not need to be members or to identify themselves. We do receive training from other existing charities and helpline groups and recognise that there is some overlap.

We frequently will suggest callers speak with their indemnity provider as the first contact to make. We recognise that on occasions, callers do not have an indemnity provider who is able to assist them. We have an understanding with the Dentists’ Health Support Trust to signpost callers to their helpline if appropriate.

Are the calls anonymous?

Yes, the callers number does not get displayed to the volunteer listener and we do not ask the callers identity or place of work. We are not able to return calls. However, each volunteer has an extensive resource list of contact names and telephone numbers. Many of those on our resource list offer an initial free consultation.

We will provide callers with a contact voucher code to use when speaking to a dental specialist solicitor, criminal solicitor or legal advocate barrister.

Who will callers speak to?

There is an immediate brief introduction and invitation to view our website. The message then goes on to ask the caller to hold the line if they want to speak to a listener now.

Our volunteers are all dentists. All volunteers have received training with Confidental from a variety of organisations and experts including the Samaritans, Mind, Relate, Joanna Taylor, Janine Brookes, Dentists Health Support Trust, Customer 1st Training, as well as the trustee’s own personal experiences of taking calls from distressed colleagues.

Some of the volunteers also hold mentoring or counselling qualifications as well as being dentists with relevant experience, although some are now retired.

How can readers get in contact and when are the opening hours?

Simply by calling 0333 9875158 or by visiting our website www.confidental-helpline.org and we are available 24/7.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We are fully operational now, although we hope to become better known by speaking to people such as young dentists and by regularly appearing. We are in discussions to work with other organisations around dentistry, so we expect that our number and logo should become readily accessible when someone needs a listening empathetic colleague at any time of the day…or night.