Mental health and wellbeing, both at work and in our personal lives, has been getting some much-needed attention in the last few years. Everyone from comedians to royals have been speaking out on the issue.

However, with the Mental Health Foundation estimating 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, solutions won’t be easy – nor will they be instant.

Approaches need to be long-term and multifaceted. In 2017 the AOP made health and wellbeing our central theme and launched our Peer Support Line listening service. In 2019 our theme is influence, but wellbeing remains firmly on the AOP’s agenda.

Minimising stress at work is more than nice to have, it’s economically essential – a business is only as healthy as its staff, and mental health is central to this.

We recently sent all qualified AOP members a Peer Support Line information sticker for their place of work. Our aim was to not only help keep mental health in the spotlight, but to encourage the whole optical team to use the service, and to feel welcome to do so.

Creating a healthy working environment is also about tackling the causes of stress such as inequality, and this year the AOP published research on the gender pay gap in optics. We’re currently working with employers to look at the issue, and to develop tools for demonstrating fairness.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, like every week, we will continue our efforts to create healthy, low-stress optical practices and workplaces for the benefit of our members, the profession and their patients.

Visit www.aop.org.uk/wellbeing for more about our work in this area.