Our firm’s decision to train two of its staff and a partner as mental health first aiders has come at a timely hour. We completed the mental health first aid programme in April 2019, a couple of weeks before the Law Society’s Junior Lawyers Division launched their results of the resilience and well-being survey for 2019.
As a profession we have reason to be concerned, with the Law Society’s 2019 research paper showing over 93% of respondents (junior lawyers) feeling stressed in their role the month before completing the survey, with almost a quarter of those individuals being severely/extremely stressed.
Poor mental health is not only an issue facing the legal profession known for its high flyers and perfectionists. The CIPD’s annual Health and Well-being Report which was also published in April 2019, reported that over the last 12 months, nearly three-fifths of organisations have seen an increase in the number of reported common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Stress related absence has increased over the last year in nearly two-fifths of organisations.
Mental Health First Aid forms part of our firm’s wider strategy to promote health and wellbeing, as well as its investment in people.
We are informing individual teams within our firm of the training to raise awareness and to destigmatise the whole taboo on the subject. We are also encouraging staff to look out for each other. Mental health, like physical health is a continuum which is fluid and changes over time. A number of issues can intervene at any one time to impact on it, particularly in modern society and with increasing caring demands being placed on adult workers with ageing parents and children.
There may be an impression that an investment in mental health well-being is woolly. Far from it. As Sir Cary Cooper, President of the CIPD concludes in his forward to the Health and Well-being Report, compassionate leadership (which promotes positive mental health) is a far from fluffy concept. It is supported by a hard business case showing desired outcomes such as improved relationships as well as higher motivation and job satisfaction levels, all of which can lead to enhanced performance and productivity.
We would encourage any employer, in the legal profession or otherwise to look at positive ways in investing in and promoting positive mental health in their workplace. From our own experience, clients and organisations who do this, and who measure its success tend to have fewer serious employee relations issues and a lower staff turnover. Of course issues arise, they always will when dealing with people. However, in any business, people are the most important assets.
In addition to our own training and in keeping with the needs of our clients, the Furley Employment Team is also providing in house training on a number of topics including the promotion of positive mental health in the workplace. The course, aimed at leaders and managers, covers stress recognition and risk assessments including the Health and Safety Executive’s Management Standards.
For more information please contact Amanda Okill on 01227 763939.