How are you, really? That is the question that legal mental health and wellness charity LawCare are asking this Mental Health Awareness Week, which began on Monday. This year’s theme is ‘Stress: Is Modern Life the Problem?’, and since the legal profession has been ranked forth on the list of most stressful jobs (according to the Health and Safety Executive, full 2017 report here), this week’s round-up of interesting news is a special edition focused entirely on mental health in the legal industry.
Thomson Reuters highlighted this week the increased awareness around mental health, and what the legal industry is doing to both further promote this awareness and provide support for its workforce. The Legal Professions Wellbeing Taskforce was launched in 2016 and is a great example of the industry’s response to the increasing understanding of mental health in the workplace, alongside the City Mental Health Alliance, comprising of London businesses. Also mentioned are firms’ own initiatives, well demonstrated in this article by Trowers.
The Legal Professions Wellbeing Taskforce held a roundtable prior to Mental Health Awareness Week and this Legal Futures article focuses on its recommendations to train law students in emotional competency and encourage law firm leaders to shift the firm’s culture and allow for open discussion around mental health. Both would assist trainee and junior lawyers, necessary with the JLD feeding back that they found it “difficult to speak up in a traditional, hierarchical law firm.” LawCare illuminated the message in January, reporting that 45% of callers to its helpline were trainees or junior lawyers.
95% of solicitors experience work-related stress, according to the Law Society’s 2016 practising certificate holder survey. In Autumn last year, the Law Gazette looked at the legal profession’s approach in light of this frankly horrifying, yet depressingly unsurprising, statistic. Tellingly, at Hogan Lovells interest peaks “when mental health and wellbeing initiatives are publicised”. Their onsite counsellor has been booked up, and related events over-subscribed. There is certainly appetite to understand mental health and resilience to stress, but how that continues to translate into firms themselves is most crucial.
As we posted on Monday, if you feel that you need support, or want further ideas for how to stay healthy at work, these are the links to use:
City Mental Health Alliance: http://citymha.org.uk/
MHFA England: https://mhfaengland.org