Making Mental Health Matter

In honour of World Mental Health Day and in celebration of LawCare’s 20th anniversary, we attended “Making Mental Health Matter” along with 70 other attendees from across the legal community. Helen Whiting shares the main learning points from the day.

The wellbeing and mental health of professionals working in legal services has long been a concern, but it’s only in the last three years that action is being taken to improve the support and awareness of these issues.

LawCare’s 20th anniversary conference on World Mental Health Day (10 October) was the perfect time to showcase what’s currently being done in the sector to tackle this issue, but also discuss further work needed.

Hearing the story of Chris Parsons from Herbert Smith Freehills highlighted the different stages he encountered in his mental health journey and ultimately the great support he had from his company which helped him manage the situation.

There were lots of other positive messages from the day. In 2014, the Law School of Ireland introduced a module into the Professional Practice courses for solicitors which looks at the psychology of a lawyer and encourages students to think about the importance of maintaining a healthy emotional life to improve professional and personal success.

It was also interesting to see how another profession was tackling the issue. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons launched the Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) in 2014 to support their members also working in high-pressured, isolated positions. The importance of maintaining your mental health is embedded in their Code of Conduct and the initiative includes actions to prevent wellbeing issues and protect and support their members.

But there is still work to be done. Recent research from the Junior Lawyer’s Division of the Law Society of England and Wales shows that over 50% of all participants regularly or occasionally felt unable to cope as a result of stress.

So what can we do to improve mental health and wellbeing at work? LawCare’s recently released publication had this advice.

  • Promote a culture of acceptance – Senior leaders should send a clear message that staff mental health is important and will be supported.
  • Raise awareness – Organisations should promote the need to manage your mental health and how they will support you.
  • Improve your work/life balance – Even taking a full lunch break can improve your focus, motivation and performance.
  • Provide learning and development –Valued and supported staff will feel happier at work. Training for line managers in spotting early signs of mental ill health and how to handle this is an important step.
  • Get support – You’re not alone! There are lots of organisations who can help. LawCare’s helpline is run by trained volunteers with experience of working in law. Other organisations that can help include Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and Mental Health First Aid England.


See more