Firms look for ways to support lawyers’ mental health

Today is World Mental Health Day. You’ve probably heard the stat that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives, while a survey this week by insurance firm Friends Life revealed that 40 per cent of those asked had concealed depression, anxiety or stress from their employer.

Lawyers, of course, are as prone to stress as anyone else. Possibly more so. Our sister publication Lawyer 2B conducted a Stress in Law survey this summer which revealed the chief causes of stress in the profession, highlighting the long-hours culture and attitude to work-life balance at different firms. Tellingly, it also uncovered the fact that the majority of lawyers are unaware of any stress-combating policies their firm might have.

Having said that, some firms are addressing the issue. Clifford Chance piloted a stress-combating programme among its trainees, which it felt met with such success that it has now rolled it out across the rest of the firm.

Meanwhile, Mishcon de Reya managing partner Kevin Gold has told his lawyers to work three-day weeks and take unlimited holidays.

If such initiatives are met with cynicism by the profession, it’s understandable. But at least Mishcon and CC are actively trying to do something rather than just talking.

Nor can firms be expected to solve the stress problem by themselves. Individuals have to take responsibility for their own health, too. If that means remembering it’s Friday and at some point you should leave the office, so be it.

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