Taking the time to talk

How many times have you said, ‘I’m fine’ when you are anything but ok?

Person speaking

‘I’m fine’ is an easy response to rely on when dealing with work, financial or personal pressures. But if you were asked, ‘How are you?’ a second time, would you be open to giving a different response?

That’s my interpretation of advice on discussing mental health from the Time to Talk Day website. Taking the time to double check if a family member, friend or colleague is ok seems so simple, but that British stiff upper lip seemingly gets in the way of talking about our emotions.

The event, which takes place next Thursday (7 February), aims to create conversation about mental health and challenge the stigma attached to it.

According to the organisers, one in four of us are affected by mental health problems, but a conversation can help to break down stereotypes and aid recovery.

If you are taking part in the event or your practice has health and wellbeing initiatives in place that you’d like to share, please get in touch with OT via email

AOP staff will be taking part in the day and using downloadable support materials from the initiative’s website.

We will be having a chat and learning a few tips about wellbeing, taking inspiration from the AOP’s confidential, free-phone helpline.

In 2018, Peer Support Line volunteers facilitated 191 conversations that averaged 25 minutes a call. The main topics discussed were employment and stress, with 72% of calls coming from female professionals.

Eye health is also linked to mental health. In July last year, researchers found that children with visual impairment are more likely to develop mental health problems – highlighting the important role optometrists can play in supporting their patients.

At 100% Optical earlier this month, healthy living was on the agenda with Dr James Brown, who highlighted the link between obesity, nutrition and eye health.

Image credit: Getty/Steve Debenport