Published 15th August 2019
Wellbeing and mental health in the legal profession
Recent years have witnessed a growing concern internationally in wellbeing and mental health in the legal community.
In fact, one in fifteen junior lawyers have experienced suicidal thoughts within the past month, new research has revealed.
The research, part of the Junior Lawyers Division’s (JLD) ‘Resilience and Wellbeing Survey Report’, found that almost half of respondents (48%) have experienced mental ill-health.
It is so important to spread awareness about mental ill health as many people suffer from poor mental health in the legal community. It needs to be recognised as an illness many people, including junior lawyers, go through so people can be properly diagnosed and treated.
Law Care and #OneMind Campaigns
With this in mind, I have recently been invited to become a founding member of the national Law Care mental health campaign. My appointment is on the back of the establishment of my #OneMind Campaign, founded to make mental health risk assessments mandatory in the workplace. This is going from strength to strength, and can be found at https://www.change.org/p/onemind-we-all-have-one-mind-and-we-need-to-protect-this-starting-in-the-workplace
I was invited to speak at several events where I had the pleasure of meeting CEO of Law Care, Elizabeth Rimmer who has personally asked me to step up to this new role. You can find out about LawCare here: https://www.lawcare.org.uk/
Currently there is still a stigma attached to mental health, and this must be confronted with public opinion and awareness. The best tool we have is our voices and using our platforms to speak about mental health so people who suffer from it can speak up and ask for help.
Emotional health is an important part of overall health, and it is important to note that people who are emotionally healthy are in control of their feelings and behaviour. Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away, there is growth in pain but only if it is brought out in the open.
In a profession as intense as Law it is a necessity to have access to help, and some lawyers are now focused on ‘surviving’ in the legal community rather than thriving. Wellbeing across the legal community is an issue that is often overlooked, and poor wellbeing should not be normalised. As such, lawyers shouldn’t focus on trying to survive because they lose focus on their health.
The Law Society also provide help for lawyers by offering a range of helplines that give out practical advice. This ensures the most practical legal advice is given to clients by lawyers, which guarantees the best service for clients.
Lawyers can call 020 7320 5675 for free and everything that is said remains confidential unless any specific information said by Lawyers relates to money laundering or serious misconduct. In that scenario, the Law Society is obliged to report such matters to the law enforcement agencies.
Law Society Mental Health Helpline
The helpline is called Practice Advice Support, and offers advice on all areas of legal advice including solicitors’ costs and litigation. Lawyers can also email email@example.com if they feel uncomfortable speaking on the phone.
This can be useful to lawyers who are struggling about which legal advice to give to clients and in turn takes the burden away of being the prime decision maker and removes the burden of pressure they might feel. This is more important now than ever with the rise of solicitors being struck off, despite citing mental ill health as a reason for their misconduct.
The helplines are not only aimed for lawyers who are struggling in terms of legal advice to give to clients, but for lawyers who are struggling with personal, financial, professional or employment difficulties. To access pastoral care for lawyers call 020 7320 5795.
And don’t forget, the Thriving Minds annual conference is taking place on the 19th September at Leeds Civic Hall. Last year several law firms attended, this year will be bigger and we have arranged for an expert panel as well as an employer panel which will be hosted by the Yorkshire Post. Why not make 2019 the year your firm steps up their mental health strategy.
To book your tickets, for this highly-focused, action-packed day, featuring speakers including Paula Sherriff MP, the Lord Mayor of Leeds and Tom Riordan, CEO of Leeds City Council, please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/thriving-minds-annual-conference-tickets-60124795883?aff=ebapi
Written by Ola El-Jack