Wellbeing charity encourages lawyers to talk about their struggles with anxiety

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LawCare campaign marks start of Mental Health Awareness Week

LawCare is encouraging the legal community to talk about their struggles with anxiety at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Anxiety is this year’s theme and from 15 May the lawyer wellbeing charity has spotlight its prevalence in the legal profession so that lawyers can recognise the signs and find support.

LawCare found anxiety to be one of the top three reasons legal professionals reached out for support last year. Moreover, its 2021 ‘Life in the Law’ study found more than two-thirds (69%) of participants had experienced mental ill-health in the 12 months prior to completing the survey, and of those 61% said they experienced anxiety often to all of the time.

LawCare chief executive Elizabeth Rimmer said: “Many legal professionals experience anxiety. They may worry that they are not cut out for the law, have sleepless nights about a mistake they have made, or be fearful of not meeting targets. The perfectionist personality of legal professionals, the high-performance culture in law, and a lack of effective management support can make legal professionals prone to anxiety. Having anxiety at work can have a huge impact on you and your career, and it is important that managers recognise and do not ignore when colleagues may be experiencing anxiety.”

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The charity has today published new guidance for leaders on managing anxiety in the workplace.

Rimmer continued:

“Managers need to be equipped to recognise the signs of anxiety, this could be a significant drop in performance or reduced productivity, and then respond with empathy and compassion. A supportive workplace where information about anxiety is visible and talked about will enable colleagues with anxiety to feel psychologically safe to seek support.”

Last month the Legal Services Board approved an application by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to implement new rules in relation to lawyer and staff wellbeing. They make it a requirement for law firm employees to be treated fairly and with respect at work, and for managers to challenge any treatment and behaviour that falls short of this standard.

Struggling with anxiety? Contact LawCare via its helpline or live chat



Good. I think it will be difficult to address the actual causes of stress and anxiety; they’re pretty much baked into the system. At least now though the professions are recognising the problems, and people feel more able to talk about it. One thing I do like about social media like Law Twitter is that people can share stories about what they have to put up with and how they feel; so people know they are not alone.

We have a wellbeing at the bar initiative. It certainly helps.

I know that this article will probably attract a lot of ‘if you can’t stand the heat…’ type comments. I usually though treat such posts with a degree of scepticism. There are very few people actually in practice who share those sentiments. Wait until you’ve been doing the job a few years, then see how it feels.

To illustrate, at the launch of the wellbeing initiative a very senior practitioner told the story that, every day he wanted to be hit by a car, not fatally, but just enough to put him into hospital for a few weeks so he had an excuse for a break. The response was “Yeah, but we all feel that.” And that was the point, maybe we shouldn’t?

So I very much welcome schemes like this, and I would encourage anyone setting out on their careers to take advantage of anything like this on offer.

It is tempting to try to cover such feelings up. Understandably, people are worried such admissions may be detrimental to their careers. But the reality is, most practitioners will recognise those feelings, and empathise. And even from a commercial viewpoint, people suffering from burnout or so stressed they make mistakes, aren’t a very good business model.

So remember, you are not alone, and it’s ok to talk about it.

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For all the press releases, soundbites, pretty websites, secret benzo prescriptions and teenage offspring they put in The Priory, I think pupillage committees will always have a 1950’s view of mental health.

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