AOP support

AOP insight: member wellbeing and a video series on social media tips

Sarah Melzack, project manager of the AOP Peer Support Line, and Leah Boyle, OT ’s web content and social media executive discuss recent projects and how their teams have been supporting members

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Pexels/Olya Kobruseva

Commercial: Sarah Melzack, project manager of the Peer Support Line

How has the Peer Support Line (PSL) been supporting members in the past year?

Sarah Melzack
Sarah Melzack
In the last 12 months our amazing volunteers have assisted with almost 100 hours of support conversations; listening to problems, providing understanding, and helping callers to work through their worries to gain some perspective or a plan of action. Whilst 2020 saw a 65% rise in calls, fuelled by stresses and work/life changes caused by the pandemic, 2021 seems to be plateauing but with an increase in mental health issues, an unfortunate repercussion following such an unstable and strained year. Thankfully, a lot of callers report a sense of relief and clarity after speaking to us.

What are your plans for the PSL in the year ahead?

With the rise in mental health issues, we will be concentrating on upskilling our volunteers in this area. We’re also conducting a (much delayed due to the pandemic) onboarding of some new recruits so it will be great to have some new perspectives brought to the wonderful volunteer community that we have.

What is one thing you would like readers to know about the PSL in 2021?

Our volunteers want to help. The PSL volunteers are optometry professionals who can understand the context and implications of caller’s problems, be them large or small, professional or personal, and they operate in a completely anonymised and confidential space. Previous callers have often referenced wishing they’d called sooner, so to members struggling I would say, please don’t delay.

Optometry Today (OT): Leah Boyle, OT web content and social media executive

What is the OT talks social media series?

This is an online video series, created for OT’s Facebook and Instagram, that aims to offer the latest advice and insight into how to get the best out of using social media. From simple tips and tricks, such as how to save time, to ethical responsibilities surrounding professionalism and confidentiality.

In the series, OT interviews industry experts in online marketing, as well as optometrists and optometry students with an established social media presence, who each offer a different perspective in their area of expertise.

What led to the launch of the series?

Leah Boyle
Leah Boyle
Over the past year we’ve all witnessed the growth of online activity and social media is no exception. Some practitioners may have used this time to think about what they offer online and the social media platforms they invest time into, so we thought this was the perfect opportunity to release a video series that could help them. There is a plethora of information and guidance online about social media best practice, but we wanted to create something bespoke and relevant for optometrists, that they could take into consideration when approaching how they use social media.

How do you hope this series will benefit optometrists?

I hope this helps optometrists to feel more informed, confident and better-equipped when using social media in their practice or as students. I also hope the video series helps practitioners to think about how they can be more creative with the kind of content they can produce and perhaps try new things they hadn’t considered doing before.

How does this fit into OT’s social media plans and how can optometrists get involved?

The OT team would like to continue with this series for a few more episodes so we would welcome any budding optometry influencers to contact us. We will also be running Instagram giveaways and competitions throughout the year and would encourage readers to get involved.

We are always looking for fresh ideas, so if readers would like to propose anything to us, our door is always open. We would also welcome hearing from any optometrists who have an interesting story to share, be it a patient-related, opening a new practice, or experiences studying at university. Social media is about creating a sense of community so by sharing experiences, we can help make this stronger.

To get in touch, email Leah Boyle or OT's Newsdesk.