This year the Ardent team has been focussing on the issue of mental health. Our consultants have been through Mental Health First Aid training as a team. On World Mental Health Day we wanted to share our thoughts on mental health in the legal profession in 2021.
The mental health of the legal profession since lockdown
Whilst the majority of firms have worked very hard to look after their people during this challenging time, there’s no escaping the fact that some legal practice areas are busier than they’ve ever been. As a result, many lawyers have been overworked and experienced more stress than ever before.
Consultant Jon Kennedy commented: “I’ve spoken to people who’ve felt really isolated. This includes people delivering their work with less support than they’d have received in “normal” circumstances. I’ve also spoken to people who have been working exceptionally long hours under immense pressure without the social interactions and extra-curricular activities that help balance things out.”
We believe the legal profession as a whole has shown a great level of resilience over the last few months. We have seen an increased awareness of mental health in recent years and law firms had been increasing the levels of support they offer. But undoubtedly the pandemic has highlighted so many issues that were once not discussed within the profession. Many firms have improved their mental health support or brought programmes forward in response to lockdown.
Why did we choose to train as Mental Health First Aiders as a team?
Director Gerry Arbuckle said: “We speak to all our candidates in complete confidence. They often share details of their workplace and issues that they have found particularly challenging. We knew it was important for our team to support candidates as they look for their next career move. Mental health first aid training has given us the skills and confidence to offer that support.”
What did we learn from the training?
The training showed us how useful it is to be aware that people may be struggling behind the scenes. We were surprised that so many people are impacted by mental health issues at some point in their lives. It showed us how much more we should be talking about it and supporting those around us. We were also surprised by the extent to which mental health issues lead to significant physical suffering in many cases, and the fact that those physical issues are likely to persist or escalate if the root problem is not addressed.
Director Jane Gaunt commented: “The most useful part of the training was to be able to have a tool kit so I can help someone who is facing a mental health issue or crisis that is affecting their ability to develop successfully within their career. The training also reminded us that looking after your own mental health is just as important as helping others who need support. You can’t help someone if you yourself are struggling.”
Consultant Phil Kennedy added: “The whole course helped me be alive to the face that people might be struggling and that it is okay to talk about it, if they think it is appropriate.”
How will we support our clients?
Lawyers turn to us when they are looking for a change, or to “fix” something about their current employment situation. This means clients often treat us as a confidant on a whole range of issues, many of which relate to mental health.
We hope that by having a greater insight into some of the issues that people face when dealing with a mental health condition we can work in a more collaborative way with law firms to address some of these issues, to the extent they relate to a recruitment process or onboarding. As a team we are much more alive to the fact people might be struggling. It’s ok to talk about it, and as a team we will listen and support our clients much better.
If you are facing a challenging work issue and want support to move onto your next role please get in touch with any of the Ardent team.