Mental health taskforce aims to improve lawyer wellbeing
Vital initiative to raise greater awareness of mental health among lawyers
A new taskforce has been launched to promote and support mental health and wellbeing in the legal profession as Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 kicks off.
The Legal Professions Wellbeing Taskforce was initiated by the Law Society and is driven by LawCare, a charity which provides support to the legal community.
Law Society research shows that 95 per cent of lawyers experience 'negative stress' in their jobs, while 17 per cent say it is 'extreme'.
In 2015 LawCare responded to 907 calls from lawyers with health problems. Some 30 per cent related to workplace stress and 20 per cent for depression.
President of the Law Society, Jonathan Smithers, said: 'Law can be a demanding career. Many of us are drawn to the intellectual challenge and thrive on the high pressure our work entails, but with this high pressure can come stress.
Smithers said it was vital that there was greater awareness of the importance of mental health among lawyers and greater openness to enable conversations about this issue.
'The taskforce provides a welcome opportunity to work collaboratively with experts from across the legal sector to enhance mental health and wellbeing provision throughout our diverse community.'
Fifteen partners have pledged their support for the taskforce; including regulators, legal education providers, and City firm Linklaters. Together they will aim to identify how to improve the perception of mental health and well-being and address stigma as a barrier to accessing support.
Chief executive of Law Care, Elizabeth Rimmer, commented: 'LawCare has identified that there is very low awareness of the support and services available to those in the legal community, and that there is stigma attached to acknowledging mental health issues.
'There is also a lack of knowledge in the community itself about good practice and what that looks like, and to date there is no evaluative research on the effectiveness of existing wellbeing programmes,' she said.
'We also need to consider how those in need of support can find it and trust it but, overall, we're keen to develop tangible actions and solutions.'
Nigel Jones, an intellectual property partner and health and wellbeing champion at Linklaters said the taskforce will 'help to open up the channels of communication, encouraging our staff to demonstrate greater openness and start conversations about the issues'.
For more information on the taskforce and its members, go to www.lawcare.org.uk/taskforce.