Mental Health & Wellbeing Within the Profession: What our reference panel members think
By Nick Gallagher, CEO, The Solicitors’ Charity.
I wholeheartedly believe that the best way to continue shaping our support for the profession is to listen to the views of those in it. These views help drive our thinking, understanding and policy. This is why we run a Reference Panel that meets regularly each year.
The Reference Panel brings together solicitors from a variety of backgrounds and its conversations provide an opportunity for solicitors to share with us (and each other) their opinions on the demands and issues that those working in the profession experience.
It also acts as a ‘sounding board’ for us to test potential new ways of helping solicitors in need of support.
At our most recent panel in February, we discussed mental health and wellbeing, the importance of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP), and what The Solicitors’ Charity could consider offering solicitors as practical support to improve mental wellbeing.
Mental health is a big issue within the profession, as highlighted in the LawCare Life In The Law report, which we partly funded. We feel that we should be doing more in this area but want to make sure we are doing the right things.
Below I’m going to share a few comments from our Reference Panel and what The Solicitors’ Charity is planning to do to help the profession combat these issues.
“A vast majority of firms are small and don’t have the funding or time to be offering Employee Assistance Programmes, which is why it would be a real positive impact for The Solicitors’ Charity to step in and try to work with these firms to ensure they can offer a service like this to their employees.”
It is clear that money is a big factor in providing EAP’s and The Solicitors’ Charity is keen to explore ways that it can help more firms to offer this in the future. Whether that be part funding these programmes, or campaigning to get firms to group together and offer a wider support service that could be collectively funded. It’s definitely something that we will be exploring.
“The mindset of solicitors is often to suffer in silence and just get on with it. So, we need to ensure that the solicitors who are feeling like they need help have someone to turn to.”
Another key point that was brought up many times by our panel members is leadership support. It was suggested that perhaps the managers and CEOs are often overlooked when actually they have been under enormous pressure over the past two years.
Mental health issues can happen to anyone and we should move away from the stigma of any professional level of person being less or more affected. Raising awareness of this is so important and helping solicitors to recognise this in themselves. We will be taking a look at tools which we could offer to help self awareness.
“We need to make sure trainee solicitors are well equipped on how to cope with stress and other issues before they even start their career in the profession.”
At The Solicitors’ Charity, we are currently scoping out a new volunteering programme, which will have a mentoring scheme as part of it. This will hopefully help with many of these issues and we will, of course, take all of our reference panel members’ thoughts and suggestions into consideration when developing it.
And remember, we are just a call away should you need us. If you are in need of financial, emotional or practical support, just call 020 8772 1733 or visit our website to get help.