Bar Council to reward wellbeing initiatives
Applicants must have a wellbeing policy in place and be able to demonstrate their commitment to providing mental health support
The Bar Council is introducing a ‘certificate of recognition’ to reward efforts made to promote wellbeing at the Bar.
The regulator is calling for applications to the initiative on the first anniversary of its Wellbeing at the Bar website, which offers wellbeing and mental health support to barristers and chambers.
Chambers, specialist bar associations, circuits, Inns, and organisations that employ barristers are all eligible to apply for the certificate of recognition, which it is hoped will kite-mark best practice in wellbeing and mental health across the profession.
To be eligible applicants must have a wellbeing policy or practice in place and be able to demonstrate their commitment to promoting wellbeing.
Applications should contain evidence of recent initiatives and programmes, such as education and training, mentoring schemes, and other supportive initiatives.
Those applying must be willing to publicise their initiative on the Wellness at the Bar website and assist others seeking to emulate good practice.
Applications for the first round of certificates close on Friday 13 October. Those that are successful will be presented with their certificates by the chair of the Bar, Andrew Langdon QC, at the Annual Bar and Young Bar Conference 2017 on Saturday 4 November.
In parallel to the rise across society, the number of lawyers seeking support for mental health-related concerns has risen in recent years.
Mental health and wellbeing charity LawCare reported speaking to 555 callers last year – an increase of 12 per cent on the 496 it received in 2015.
Stress-related calls rose from 30 to 38 per cent and those related to depression fell from 20 to 12 per cent, but the two issues accounted for the highest amount of calls received by the charity in 2016.
Among others, Littleton Chambers, Inner Temple, Matrix, and Doughty Street have all introduced wellbeing initiatives.
In a case study on the Wellbeing at the Bar website Inner Temple said it set up the initiative after reading the ‘Wellbeing at the Bar’ report.
“We recognised that several members of staff were under pressure at work which, if not dealt with, could turn into harmful stress. The Inner Temple already provided an employee assistance programme and health insurance but we felt that we could improve our proactive support,” it said.
“A proposal was put to the executive committee and it was decided that, as a good employer, we should set up a staff wellbeing programme to support staff. It was felt that a mentally healthy workforce would perform better and take less unnecessary sickness absence.”
Hannah GannagÃ©-Stewart, reporter