UK Legal Industry Acknowledges Importance Of Mental Health

It’s World Mental Health Day today, 10th October, and charity organisations, legal professionals and firms across the UK have echoed their sentiments across the community to raise awareness of the importance of good mental health and well-being in the industry. 

Numerous legal firms and practitioners have taken to social media to show their support and become advocates for mental wellbeing to outline their thoughts and actions to support their fellow colleagues. 

Managing Partner of Gardner Leader LLP, Derek Rodgers has today announced their permanent flexible new holiday entitlement after a nine-month trial. He said: 

We will no longer have any fixed limits on the amount of annual leave which staff members can take and instead will only assess holiday requests on the basis of whether the needs of the business can be properly serviced during the absence.  

We have a fantastic team of people that we know we (and our clients) can rely on. 

While Pennington Manches Cooper legal firm takes pride in providing a working environment that promotes and supports mental health and well-being of all of their employees by encouraging their teams to do the same.  

Family associate at the firm, Charlotte Purves takes mental health seriously by communicating her thoughts through LinkedIn, having written an article entitled ‘Every Mind Matters’ which outlines why young lawyers should not neglect their mental wellbeing. 

It goes without saying that working as a law professional can be very stressful, with never-ending workloads and emotionally complex challenging cases.  

At the beginning of this year, legal mental health charity, LawCare reported receiving their highest ever number of helpline calls from solicitors in 2018. An even more concerning statistic was that calls from solicitors complaining about bullying and harassment had nearly doubled in 2018. 

Furthermore, two thirds of solicitors feel high levels of stress in their jobs according to in depth research undertaken in the legal sector and mental health issues. 

Plus, every year in the UK, 70 million workdays are lost to mental illness – with mental illness being the leading cause of sickness and absence from work. 

With the recent ‘Stress in the Legal Profession: Problematic or Inevitable’ report by LexisNexis, reporting that legal professionals feel as though a level of stress comes with the territory, it is clear mental health needs to be tackled across the industry. 

LawCare has launched a new advocacy scheme ‘LawCare Champions’ to coincide with World Mental Health Day. The programme aims to appoint legal professionals in the UK to act as mental health and wellbeing advocates within the legal community. 

Fourteen champions, including Charles Jacobs, Senior Partner and Chairman at LinklatersJames Pereira QC, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Lloyd Rees, Herbert Smith Freehill’s Samantha Brown, David McCahon from Barclays and IP inclusive lead executive officer Andrea Brewster OBE have been appointed with more to follow next year.

Elizabeth Rimmer Chief Executive of LawCare said: 

“We are very proud to launch this new scheme on World Mental Health Day. This is a cross-jurisdiction, cross-profession initiative and our new champions have all been carefully chosen for their commitment, passion and enthusiasm in raising awareness about the importance of good mental health and wellbeing in the legal community. We hope our champions will help us to drive positive change in the culture of law. The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is suicide prevention, and we must all come together in the legal community to improve dialogue on mental health issues.”

The charity has also launched a new animated video highlighting the support they offer – available to view at www.lawcare.org.uk 

The Law Society have also provided guidance on dealing with stress and mental health in the workplace here. 

As a Will Writer/private client professional what are you doing to build a positive mental well-being culture in your firm? 

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