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Mental health taskforce created to improve lawyers’ wellbeing

19th May 2016

A new taskforce has been launched to promote and support mental health and wellbeing in the legal profession.

The Legal Professions Wellbeing Taskforce was initiated by the Law Society and is driven by LawCare, a charity which provides support to the legal community.

Law Society research shows that 95% of lawyers experience “negative stress” in their jobs, while 17% say it is “extreme”. In 2015, LawCare responded to 907 calls from lawyers with health problems. Some 30% related to workplace stress, and 20% were in regards to depression.

The President of the Law Society, Jonathan Smithers, said that “Law can be a demanding career. Many of us are drawn to the intellectual challenge and thrive on the high pressure our work entails, but with this high pressure can come stress.”

Smithers noted that it was vital that there was greater awareness of the importance of mental health among lawyers and greater openness to enable conversations about this issue.

Fifteen partners have pledged their support for the taskforce; including regulators, legal education providers, and City firm Linklaters. Together they will aim to identify how to improve the perception of mental health and well-being and address stigma as a barrier to accessing support.

Chief executive of Law Care, Elizabeth Rimmer, commented: “LawCare has identified that there is very low awareness of the support and services available to those in the legal community, and that there is stigma attached to acknowledging mental health issues.”

“There is also a lack of knowledge in the community itself about good practice and what that looks like, and to date there is no evaluative research on the effectiveness of existing wellbeing programmes,” she continued. “We also need to consider how those in need of support can find it and trust it but, overall, we’re keen to develop tangible actions and solutions.”