This year is possibly the most important year for World Mental Health Day. COVID-19 has torn through each and every one of our lives, in some way or another affecting our livelihoods, wellbeing and mental health.
Looking specifically at the legal sector, it’s never been an easy industry. With long hours and high-pressure working environments, it’s hardly a surprise that the sector sees some of the highest rates of mental health problems across the general population of workers.
Last year, reports showed worrying statistics in relation to lawyers’ mental health. 52 per cent of respondents reported regularly or occasionally feeling unable to cope. A quarter of respondents reported severe or extreme levels of work-related stress and around half reported mental ill-health. Shockingly, only one fifth of these individuals’ employers were aware of their struggles.
Sadly, whilst not yet fully reported, there is certainly an expectation that the knock-on effects of the pandemic will see these figures rise phenomenally within the legal sector.
This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘Do One Thing’, encouraging us all to do one thing to make positive steps towards change, both for ourselves and for those around us during these turbulent times.
So, what sort of things could we do within the legal sector to support our own and others’ mental health?
Take a break
Despite the importance of rest and resetting, the core purpose of lunch breaks (apart from eating lunch, of course!), a mighty 79 per cent of workers don’t take time for themselves.
Make sure you use this time wisely; eat a nutritious meal, take time away from screens and allow your mind to recuperate.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is a vital element to maintain good physical and mental health, with eight hours being the optimum time for repair. Surprisingly, only 17 per cent of us get a full eight hours; over half of us get under six hours!
Dive into a new hobby
When we lack sufficient work/life balance, we are prone to burnout or extreme fatigue. By finding new ways to spend time outside of work, either on our own or with friends and family, it becomes much easier to leave the stresses of work at work. This might be something creative, sporty, musical – the choice is endless!
Get outside once a day
We don’t all have the luxury to have acres of woodlands or stretches of greenery around us, but even if this is the case, simply getting outdoors is encouraged. Stepping outside of the office into fresh air and natural light can reduce stress and improve confidence and self-esteem.
Ask for help
Possibly one of the hardest things to do, but arguably the most important. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health during these times, don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek guidance.
This could be from a colleague, a friend, a family member or even anonymous services such as The Samaritans or MIND.
MIND: 0300 123 3393
The Samaritans: 116 123
Young Minds: 0808 820 5544
Papyrus: 0800 068 4141