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Optometry Australia cares about your mental health and wellbeing

In late 2019 a team of researchers from QUT conducted a large, cross sectional survey of Australian optometrists, using well established mental health scales.  The results they found were concerning, with prevalence of depression and anxiety and moderate to severe psychological distress at 31%. Prevalence of high burnout was 56% and optometrists aged ≤ 30 years were 3.5 times more likely to report moderate to severe psychological distress compared to optometrists aged >30 years.

As the world entered an unprecedented global pandemic in 2020, many further studies demonstrated a profound and prolonged impact on healthcare workers. One study of over 9,000 Australian healthcare workers during 2020 found 71% experienced moderate to severe burnout.

As we enter the ‘recovery’ phase of the pandemic, we are faced with new challenges, with 2023 bringing high demands, economic uncertainty and for many, reduced energy. Psychologists report that with the pace and pressures of life, work, and cost of living, many patients feel depleted in their resources and are experiencing fatigue as a result. They note this feeling of fatigue has been ongoing since the start of the acute phase of the pandemic and continues due to ongoing external pressures. Many patients have described this experience as like ‘sprinting a marathon’.



Three free counselling services by trained psychologists

In March 2022, Optometry Australia launched the Member Assistance Program, to support you in strengthening your mental resilience and wellbeing. Over the past two years many members have taken this opportunity to take some time to focus on themselves, kick start their mental health journey or focus on tailored self improvement with the help of trained professionals.

This service is completely confidential and free for all Optometry Australia members and gives you access to up to three coaching and counselling sessions. To get more information about the Member Assistance Program, we encourage you to watch this short introductory video and read more here.

This member service does not require referral, Medicare, GP or employer information. Once your membership status has been verified (from membership lists – no information is supplied to OA) you can talk to their trained psychologists anonymously if you prefer. (Please note this also enables any member to discuss sensitive topics such as alcohol or drug use issues with a trained psychologist without fear of AHPRA mandatory reporting. Research indicates this factor remains a barrier in professionals accessing help and assistance in these areas).

If you wish to book a coaching or counselling session through the Member Assistance Program, simply call the Centre for Corporate Health on 1800 959 956 or email


Webcast LinkDescriptionSpeakers
Mental Health First AidWatchDiscusses mental health first aid as a health practitioner. Outlines key indicators and symptoms that optometrists should be looking for in patients, optometrist’s responsibilities and obligations. Teresa Coffey, Mental health Specialist.
One Clear Path for OptometristsWatchOptimal strategies for your own physical and mental wellbeing.Lisa Jansen, optometrist and director at Infinite Clarity Coaching.
Mental ResilienceWatchLearn the difference between stress and burnout and how to identify stress in oneself and others
Learn how to mitigate risk factors and harness protective factors to promote personal growth
Learn how psychological safety can create human connectedness and team cohesion
Cassandra Danskin, Workplace Interventions


Optometry NSW/ACT ‘Optometry Talks' episodes
  • Episode 1:  Supporting mental health in me and my patients

  • Episode 2: Balancing family and career without losing your mind
  • Dr Anna Samecki from the Black Dog Institute
  • Mental Health for Health Professionals – why it’s important for healthcare workers to proactively look after their own mental health and when to seek professional help


    Tips to prevent burnout in optometry


    The Australian Government has also identified burnout as a priority and early in 2023 invested another $1.7m in The Essential Network (TEN), which provides evidence-based tools and resources to support health practitioners’ mental health. We recommend the TEN Self Guided Digital Mental Health Check-up.

    Image from the Black Dog Institute’s Burnout Guide

    Suicide and self-harm in health professionals

    Ahpra recently released findings from an Expert Advisory Group about identifying and minimising distress for practitioners involved in the regulatory process.

    Sadly, it found that 16 health practitioners had taken their lives between January 2018 and December 2021 while involved in regulatory processes, and four practitioners had attempted suicide or had self-harmed.

    To raise awareness of mental health issues and to raise funds for Lifeline’s suicide prevention hotline, Optometry Australia Staff joined the Push Up Challenge to complete 3,144 push-ups during the month of June 2023.

    Why 3,144 push-ups? Sadly, this is the number of Australians who lost their lives to suicide in 2022.

    Please join our community “Eye opt to push up” online and the important conversation about mental health!

    Please reach out for help
    13 11 14 available 24/7
    Beyond Blue:
    1300 22 46 36 available 24/7
    Optometry Australia’s optometry advisor helpdesk offers our members dedicated, experienced optometrist ready to provide confidential support. Contact or
    (03) 9668 8500

    Acknowledgement of Country

    In the spirit of reconciliation Optometry Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.