It shouldn’t take Mental Health Awareness Week (May 13-19) to be a reminder to stop and think about your mental wellbeing and that of those around you, but with the non-stop nature of modern life and work, it’s easy to see how it can be forgotten.

For most, work is a major part of our lives. It’s where we spend the lion’s share of our time and it provides us with a source of income. Being fulfilled at work can have a significant positive impact on mental health and general wellbeing.

Most would agree that the various roles in optics provide good levels of fulfilment in the workplace. After all, everyone is working for the betterment of the patient in one way or another.

But what happens when work gets on top of us and it begins to affect mood and performance? How do we recognise the signs that someone is struggling with an issue at work? Optics is so multifaceted, a ‘one-size fits all’ approach won’t work. Corporate employers will have occupational health departments and training that teaches staff to manage their own mental health and empathise with others who are having a difficult time.

For small, independent businesses, the back-end support infrastructure isn’t the same. Employers need to be savvy on mental health support for their own staff while at the same time balancing all the pressures of running a business, putting their own mental health in jeopardy.

In 2017, the Association of Optometrists launched its Peer Support Line, which provides support for ECPs experiencing stress or anxiety – a service which the organisation should be applauded for. But the AOP seems like a lone voice on the subject of mental health. It would be good to see more professional bodies offering mental wellbeing training and support.