Mental health in the legal profession
Awareness around mental wellbeing and health has increased dramatically in recent years. Working within the legal sector can, of course, be very stressful. Longs hours, large workloads, and often an unrelenting requirement to meet client or business demand. Figures published by the Health and Safety Executive in 2017, on ‘work-related stress, depression or anxiety’ ranked the legal profession fourth in the list of the most stressful jobs.
Promoting and supporting good mental health and wellbeing in the legal sector has never been so important.
The Institute of Paralegals acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing measures are having a significant impact on the profession.
At the end of last year Bupa partnered with YouGov to release a Workplace Wellbeing Census. The aim was to report how employees really feel about their mental wellbeing. The census compared the experiences of around 4,000 people who work in businesses big and small across 12 industry sectors. This included 283 employees working in the legal sector.
Bupa asked people to think of ‘wellbeing’ as their emotional outlook, as well as the physical, mental, social and environmental factors that influence it, both positively and negatively.
Bupa’s key findings within the legal sector:
- Wellbeing services such as health insurance, mental health support, access to confidential phone lines, gyms and financial support were available to 45% of legal employees. This compared to an average for all employees across sectors of 48%.
- Workload had a negative impact on wellbeing for 46% of legal employees: a higher percentage than for any other sector surveyed.
- 74% of legal employees rated their overall wellbeing as ‘good’ while 25% rated their overall wellbeing as ‘poor’ (the remaining 1% felt unsure). This compared to an average 76% good rating and a 23% poor rating for all industries surveyed.
Help is out there...
The Institute of Paralegals works with LawCare, a registered charity who promotes and supports good mental health and wellbeing in the legal community. All LawCare volunteers have working experience of the legal sector, so know first-hand some of the pressures and concerns encountered in law firms. Their website is full of useful resources as well as a free confidential helpline. LawCare reported an 11% increase in callers to 616 last year, with workplace stress still topping the table of reasons for unhappiness.
Significant progress has been made in recognising the importance of mental wellbeing in the legal sector. As an Institute we strongly believe that by being proactive in providing employees with appropriate wellbeing support and resources, it will help mitigate risks as well as other benefits.
If you are in the legal profession and struggling at work or home, or could do with speaking to someone, please contact LawCare confidentially on 0800 279 6888.
Ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10th October, the legal profession mental health charity LawCare has announced a new research study. Take part in the Mental Health Survey: Tell Us About Your Life in the Law.