Trustee Corner: Making the Invisible Visible

A dear friend recently confided in me that he was “struggling.” A bright and excellent orthodontist, he volunteered “what does it say about me that I have a mental health issue?” I hesitated but then offered “it just makes you human.”

Covid-19 is a human tragedy across many fronts. It is affecting all of us. The mental health challenges have been among the most invisible. Invisible but widespread.  We orthodontists are not immune. And neither are our teams. In conversations with team members there is talk of anxiety, depression and insomnia. Although currently anecdotal, there is rising evidence that workforce behavioral health is having a negative impact on our offices and our productivity. So where can we turn?

In my September message, I reported out on all that the AAO’s Covid-19 Task Force was able to provide members. A lot of high-level information that was directly impactful in helping to run our offices including advocacy efforts, resources and guidance. That continues, but the AAO also understands that there is much more we can offer to help members as we travel through this pandemic. A few months ago, the AAO compiled a free series of online lectures designed to offer ideas and inspiration for restoring positive energy among doctors and orthodontic team members. Featuring Gary Zelesky and Drs. Anil IdicullaChristina Pastan and Kyle Fagala, the presentations span a variety of approaches to maintaining well-being, including humor, focusing on the positive, prioritizing self-care, and understanding the science of happiness.

The AAO’s purpose is to protect our profession and support you, our members. During this unusual holiday season, our members’ well-being is also a primary focus.

So my New Year’s wish is that we survive what will likely be a harsh winter; that the vaccine is readily available to us all; and that we meet face-to face without fear to ‘talk teeth’ by summer. Perhaps wishful thinking, but it is the light at the end of the tunnel. Stay positive my friends.

Have a happy and safe holiday season.

John Callahan

Trustee – Northeastern Society of Orthodontists