The legal profession is marking Mental Health Awareness Week with a series of initiatives to support lawyers, who research indicates are particularly vulnerable to mental ill-health.
A Law Society survey on solicitors’ health and wellbeing found that almost all practising certificate holders (95%) have negative stress in their working lives, with 16% reporting that they had experienced ‘severe’ or ‘extreme’ levels of stress.
The Society is one of 15 organisations to ‘pledge allegiance’ to a new legal professions wellbeing taskforce, to be unveiled today.
The taskforce, initiated by the Society, is being ‘driven’ by legal support charity LawCare. Society president Jonathan Smithers said: ‘It is vital for legal professionals that there is greater awareness of the importance of mental health and greater openness to enable conversations about this issue.’
Other partners include the Bar Council, Solicitors Regulation Authority, CILEx, the Bar Standards Board and magic circle firm Linklaters.
Elizabeth Rimmer, chief executive of LawCare, said the charity had identified a ‘very low’ awareness of the support and services available and a ‘stigma’ attached to acknowledging mental health issues.
Rimmer said: ‘There is also a lack of knowledge in the community itself about good practice, and to date there is no evaluative research of existing wellbeing programmes.’
Meanwhile, lawyers Chetna Bhatt (pictured, top left) and Lauren Giblin (pictured, top right), who provide coaching to the legal profession, have produced a series of videos on how lawyers can look after their wellbeing.
Bhatt, an employment lawyer at the Government Legal Department, said: ‘Having dealt with our own wellbeing challenges while practising, we know how failing to prioritise wellbeing can ultimately lead to long-term illness.’