LawCare marks World Mental Health Day
By Yvette Murphy
LawCare marked World Mental Health Day yesterday and is proud to have joined the thousands of supporters worldwide who observe the programme, designed to draw attention to mental health and how it affects people’s lives.
LawCare supports and promotes mental health and wellbeing throughout the legal community, and World Mental Health Day provides us with the perfect platform from which to raise awareness of the importance of wellbeing and how it impacts mental health.
What do we mean by wellbeing? It means different things to different people but, it’s about how we feel, how we think, our relationships, and how we find meaning and purpose in our lives. Research has shown that about 40% of our wellbeing is influenced by our choices and attitudes - how we approach relationships, our values and our sense of purpose.
There are five steps we can take to improve our wellbeing:
- Connect – with the people around us, our family, friends, colleagues
- Be active – finding time for exercise
- Keep learning - new skills can boost confidence
- Give to others – just a simple kind word to someone can improve your wellbeing
- Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you
In a professional context wellbeing matters because it brings a number of benefits - greater self-esteem, optimism, resilience, vitality, self-determination, positive relationships with colleagues, better physical and mental health, greater motivation, greater creativity, and more productive work.
But what is it about the culture and practice of law that can compromise wellbeing? It’s not that lawyers are genetically predisposed to poor wellbeing; it’s about the culture of law, legal education and professional practice. The culture is one known for poor work/life balance, long hours, the competitive environment, and the fear of failure. We also know that driven and perfectionist personalities can be drawn to law.
Lawyers are expected to cope with the demands of the job, and not coping can be seen as a sign of weakness: they can find it difficult to acknowledge that they may need support. This is where LawCare comes in: our staff and volunteers have experience in the law, and understand the legal environment.
Our key service is the Helpline. It is free, independent and completely confidential, 365 days a year. We also provide factsheets on topics such as stress, anxiety and depression, and they are available on our website.
The law is a rewarding and stimulating career. LawCare wants to ensure that the working culture enables lawyers to have fulfilling and healthy professional lives where wellbeing is valued. We are striving for a legal community that talks openly about mental health so that these issues come out of the shadows.
You can contact the Helpline on 0800 279 6888 or visit www.lawcare.org.uk