Mental health in the legal sector: Stop, collaborate and listen
25 Sep 2020
There is something beautifully refreshing about people talking openly about mental health in the legal sector. Particularly their own experiences. Particularly men.
Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Rob Green, CEO of GRM, an international legal recruitment firm, to talk about mental health in the law.
You can also click on the link to watch / listen to the discussion: https://youtu.be/H4PA69BvZW4
The podcast will form part of GRM’s new, subscription-based portal called GLC or Global Legal Career which will formally launch in Q4 2020 (see further details about GLC below).
Stopping the stigma around mental health
To be honest, when Rob asked me if I would be keen to be interviewed about mental health in the legal sector, I was pleasantly surprised. For those that don’t know Rob, he’s a former rugby player: strong, tall and confident – no one is going to mess with him. Not exactly the image of someone I expected would want to discuss mental health matters in a public forum.
The thing is though, when you’ve had the courage:
- to acknowledge and address your own health issues (both physical and mental),
- to see the impact work stress is having on other areas of your life,
- to talk the issues through with someone
- to take steps to change your work habits to create more balance in your life, and
- to now live a life you love,
you understand the importance of talking about mental health issues openly. To stop the stigma associated with the term ‘mental health’.
Addressing mental health issues in the legal sector
The interview itself provides an interesting spin on mental health issues which affect legal professionals across the board (Business Development professionals, legal secretaries, recruiters etc.) – not just lawyers.
Rob, as a legal recruiter and a service provider to law firms and corporate legal teams alike, and I, as a lawyer and coach for legal professionals, have experienced the legal sector from a variety of angles.
We’ve seen and, in some cases, experienced, a variety of incidents which have caused poor mental health issues in the legal sector to surface (for example, disregard for legal recruitment, bullying, ostracism, over-work, harassment, under-valuing business development, lack of respect etc.).
Our combined 40 years of international legal experience is brought to the table in the interview.
Being interviewed by Rob was an absolute joy! We touched on a range of topics including:
- what mental health actually is
- how poor mental health manifests (e.g. stress, insomnia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression etc)
- examples of situations which may have an impact on a lawyer’s mental health (pre- and post-COVID-19), both personal and professional
- our own experiences with poor mental health and how we turned things around
- some tips to bolster your mental health whilst working in the legal sector
- some thoughts about the pressures likely to impact the legal sector following lock-down
We ended up recording for 3 hours – there was so much to talk about (and boy, can we talk!) – but, the Soundcast team worked their magic and cut us down to 90 minutes – a much more manageable listen for you – our audience.
What to do if you are struggling with your mental health currently
First of all, I want to let you know that there is nothing to be ashamed about. As we mentioned in the first of the articles in the Mental Health in the Law series (The fear around mental health in the legal world), we all experience different levels of mental health throughout our lives (good, mediocre and poor). It’s not static. It’s not constant. It is certainly not a weakness.
Poor mental health can manifest in a variety of ways and to varying degrees, including: stress, anxiety, changes in mood / behaviour, erratic thinking, impulsive actions, low self-esteem, feelings of loneliness, insomnia, burnout (those are just a few).
It leaves you drained, emotional, hyper-sensitive or numb, and to be honest, sometimes, quite teary-eyed. Nothing feels under control. Nothing feels balanced. You know this isn’t healthy for you, but often there seems to be very little option to change the status quo, without causing further damage to other areas of your life. Where do you even start?
If the above sounds familiar, and you want to regain a sense of balance and freedom, so that you can start living a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life…then book your complimentary call with me here. Let’s work out how you can start to enjoy both a successful career and live your best personal life.
A little more about Global Legal Career
As I mentioned above, in Q4 2020, GRM is launching a new, subscription-based portal called GLC or Global Legal Career.
For a small monthly fee, the legal community around the world will be able to access webcasts, podcasts, research papers, CV and cover letter templates and interview assistance through the online GLC platform. In addition, users can practise mock video interviews, attend career guidance webinars, and book one-on-one sessions with legal market career specialists and receive updates of the latest global job openings.
Users will also be able to showcase their skills and meet other members of the community, from around the world, who can help facilitate new career paths and global mobility, and much much more. Needless to say, mental health awareness in the legal sector will be a topic which will be showcased through the GLC platform.
- The legal sector has a very real mental health problem
- The impact of stress-related illnesses and psychological issues in the workplace.
- Psychological disorders? Judgment of Ockert Jansen v Legal Aid South Africa
- The fear around mental health in the legal world