Concerns have been growing across the legal industry about an increasing mental health problem amongst lawyers and legal staff.
In the 2019 Junior Lawyers Division’s Resilience and Wellbeing Survey, more than 93% of respondents reported feeling stressed in their roles and over a quarter of those noted feeling severely or extremely stressed.
Alongside this, half of respondents had experienced mental ill-health (whether formally diagnosed or not) in the month before completing the survey. One in 15 experienced suicidal thoughts, 74% experienced disrupted sleep and 60% reported a negative impact on their physical health.
In the past, legal professionals have cited high workloads, and client demands and expectations as the main causes for mental health problems. The nature of the work dealt with can also impact mental health.
In response to the concerns, North West law firm Farleys Solicitors have partnered with Burnley-based PH7 Health to invest in mental health support for its staff.
The partnership enables anyone who works for the firm and their families to access a range of counselling and other services to support their mental health and wellbeing.
Alongside this, the firm has also appointed a staff-nominated representative who has taken on a role of being an internal point of contact for initial advice and support. The staff representative is receiving ongoing training in mental health support.
Farleys’ Managing Partner Ian Liddle commented:
“There are more than 140 members of staff here at Farleys, many of whom are exposed to work of a serious nature on a daily basis. We recognise the impact this can have on our employee’s mental health.
While we successfully nurture a down to earth and friendly atmosphere amongst the teams, we recognise a need to provide access to external support services which offer professional advice as well as a dedicated, trained, point of contact internally for those who need it.
“We are continually working to develop a workplace staff can be proud of which provides the level of support each member of the team needs.”
Paul Howarth, founder of PH7 Health, added,
“With judgment and criticism playing a major role in increasing mental health issues, professionals are at increased risk due to the nature of not want to be ‘seen’ in a certain way that may impact negatively on their career.
“Ultimately this can lead to serious health implications. This can be changed by a collective effort and focus and Farleys are leading the way in their profession by taking a pro-active approach to not only support staff but send out a clear message that ‘we care’.”