It is with good reason that anxiety is the focus of the Mental Health Foundation’s Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May).
Anxiety can represent itself with severe symptoms. Feeling anxious can lead to an increased heart rate, headaches, loss of appetite, breathlessness and chest pains. It can lead to loss of sleep, lack of concentration, and with individuals becoming irritable and withdrawn.
There are many things that can cause us to become anxious, from exam stress to large workloads and pressures of work. It can affect all walks of life and become problematic at any time.
But there is good news. Today, help is more readily and easily available. There is a wide range of resources available to help individuals manage the symptoms of anxiety themselves.
The legal profession, whilst not alone, is widely recognised as a stressful profession, with anxiety and burnout very real problems. Bishop & Sewell takes its commitment to its talented lawyers seriously.
Law Care, a charity that offers support to the legal profession, found in 2021 that over 60% of lawyers that reached out to the charity reported signs of stress. It said that “the accepted working practices and culture in law undermine mental well-being”.
Bishop & Sewell fully endorses the work of Law Care and the guidance it offers. The firm also has a mental health first-aider who can offer support and guidance when it is needed.
When feeling anxious, Law Care offers the following advice.
Lawyers, it says, often face and manage sizeable workloads and it is easy to feel daunted or overwhelmed. Breaking down tasks and knowing when and how to delegate can make them feel more manageable.
Law Care suggests:
- Time management – know and plan your time productively.
- Be assertive and stop saying ‘yes’ and start saying ‘no’.
- Leave work at the door – a work-life balance is vital.
Law Care also offers valuable advice on managing stress. It recommends:
- Developing emotional resilience.
- Understand the behaviours that undermine emotional resilience.
- Understand the relationship between self-esteem and emotional resilience.
- Having strategies in place to deal with difficult clients.
A legal responsibility
Employers have a duty of care to their employees and that extends to both their mental and physical wellbeing. A mental health workplace policy is the starting point in defining how a business responds and supports its workforce but is often not enough. The need to remove the stigma that is associated with mental health is also needed. A careless comment or action from a colleague or line manager can leave an organisation exposed to potential tribunal claims.
The stigma attached to mental health can be addressed by regular training that recognises the different ways we now choose to work and the mental health issues that can arise. A culture that supports good mental health and wellbeing, where employees feel comfortable discussing these issues without fear of ridicule or sanction will ultimately put anxiety to rest.
As Mental Health Awareness Week draws to a close, we echo the advice from Law Care to look out for yourself and each other.
For those wishing to read further, and for Law Care’s guide to managing stress and anxiety visit:
- Mental Health Foundation – https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
- Law Care – stress and mental health – https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/career-advice/career-development/stress-and-mental-health
Contact our Employment team
Rhian Radia is a Partner and Head of the Employment team. For initial advice or to arrange a meeting with one of our Employment team, please email email@example.com or call on 020 7631 4141
The above is accurate as at 18 May 2023. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.