REUTERS | Jorge Adorno

Mental health, stress and wellbeing in the legal profession

Stress can impact our physical and mental health, our behaviours, and our ability to both experience happiness in life and to perform and deliver excellence at work. A career in law can involve working under high levels of pressure and it is important to develop an awareness of how such pressure affects us as individuals, and to form and maintain habits that enable us to look after ourselves and others. In this way we can stay well, reduce levels of reactivity, and respond skillfully to protect and maintain a healthy balance and a sense of wellbeing.

I have recently updated my series of resources for Practical Law on mental health, stress and wellbeing in the legal profession. The resources include case studies, self-awareness activities and reflective exercises that provide practical steps for lawyers to take to help manage pressure and safeguard their mental health. They also provide links to other resources to further develop knowledge and skills in this area. Each of the resources can be looked at independently but are also designed to be read in conjunction with one another to optimise knowledge and skills development.

Mental health, stress and wellbeing: an introduction provides a starting point for lawyers looking at issues around mental health, stress and wellbeing at work. The note explores the nature of stress, its prevalence for lawyers, and the causes of stress for those employed in the legal profession.

Mental health, stress and wellbeing: the importance of self-awareness outlines the differences between pressure and stress, the signs and symptoms of stress, and the different ways in which individuals respond to pressure. It will help you build skills to enhance your self-awareness in relation to stress and wellbeing, and includes tips for improving self-awareness in relation to your responses to pressure or possible stress. Knowing yourself well and understanding how you operate under pressure is crucial to your ability to manage pressure effectively and safeguard your health.

Mental health, stress and wellbeing: the six habits of resilience and wellbeing examines the six habits of resilience and wellbeing:

  • Habit one: be self-aware in relation to pressure and stress.
  • Habit two: be present.
  • Habit three: be connected.
  • Habit four: be in a healthy mindset, choose your attitude and manage your state.
  • Habit five: be proactive, organised and boundaried.
  • Habit six: be human, balanced and take care of yourself.

Mental health, stress and wellbeing: six habits to help you meet your management responsibilities looks at stress and wellbeing in the workplace from a manager’s perspective. It explains why stress matters to a legal team leader and outlines the benefits of implementing a wellbeing programme. It also highlights six management habits to help promote wellbeing and reduce stress in the workplace:

  • Habit one: educate yourself and others about stress, resilience and wellbeing.
  • Habit two: be an advocate for mental health and wellbeing at work.
  • Habit three: be approachable and supportive of others in relation to stress and wellbeing at work.
  • Habit four: walk your talk.
  • Habit five: empower people to manage pressure well and safeguard their wellbeing.
  • Habit six: enable people to prioritise wellbeing for themselves and for others.

Mental health, stress and wellbeing: an introduction to mindfulness outlines the nature of mindfulness, explores its relevance for lawyers, explains some of the scientific and wider research evidence that supports its growing use, and introduces some of the benefits of developing your own mindful practice.

If you are in need of more urgent support for your mental health or wellbeing, or if you know of anyone who is, these organisations offer many resources:

The Samaritans have a 24-hour helpline for guidance and for those in need of immediate help.

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