A number of law firms and legal industry bodies across Australia are committed to the wellbeing and mental health of all lawyers and there are number of resources to encourage education and awareness of this important issue.
The Legal Services Board and Commissioner’s report in 2019 into lawyer wellbeing reaffirmed earlier reports that members of the legal profession experienced higher than average rates of mental health issues than the general public.
The report found that there were a range of cultural and institutional factors in law that made it difficult for lawyers to sustain or improve wellbeing. Some of the factors included a culture of accepting bullying, sexual harassment and racism, as well as a lack of management training and vicarious trauma support and a general culture of overwork and stress.
Resources for legal practitioners
The Law Institute of Victoria offers members an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide support to practitioners experiencing challenges, concerns or issues affecting them at work or at home.
For more information about this program and LIV’s other wellbeing support services visit their website.
[email protected] is a collaboration between major firms and The College of Law. It aims to raise the levels of awareness and understanding of the nature and impact of stress, depression and anxiety across the legal profession. To encourage education and awareness of mental health and awareness in the legal profession generally [email protected] together with 10 other firms committed funding to work with Black Dog and artist Matthew Johnstone to create a series of videos for mental health month – Staying Well in the Law. Below are the links to the three separate videos and also a link to the full video.
The Law Society of South Australia, with a grant received from the Professional Standards Council of Australia, has developed a free online health and wellbeing package that aims to expand participants’ knowledge of mental health issues, and for participants to then contribute to building a culture of wellness and self-care throughout the legal profession. Access the Wellbeing and Resilience program here. You don’t have to be a LSSA member but you will need to create an account and login. It should take between one to one and a half hours, and completing it earns you one CPD unit in the compulsory area of professional development.
The Minds Count Foundation’s (formerly the Tristan Jepson Memorial Foundation) objective is to decrease work related psychological ill-health in the legal community and to promote workplace psychological health and safety. Since its beginnings in August 2008, the foundation has been at the forefront of building greater awareness of depression and anxiety across all areas of the legal fraternity. It continues to improve education and build effective models of support which focus on mental health wellbeing within the legal education system and the legal profession. In particular their free Workplace Wellbeing: Best Practice Guidelines that provide a comprehensive set of resources designed to protect and promote psychological health and safety in the legal workplace.
Other useful links
If you or someone you know are experiencing mental health concerns the following organisations may be able to help: