Stress is a growing problem across the legal sector which affects the well-being and productivity of both senior and junior staff members. The problem is multifaceted. On the one hand it could be argued that individuals need to learn new coping or resilience skills. On the other hand, firms could and should take steps to reassess what they can reasonably expect from their employees so that unnecessary stress is mitigated.
We believe that many of the current ‘well-being’ approaches are insufficient and that it is necessary to tackle stress at the level of leadership awareness and behaviours. By improving their own coping skills, leaders can act as better role models and are better equipped to help others. Also, by improving the levels of psychological safety in their organisations and teams, they will enable others to truly thrive.
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As is the case in many industries, there is now a widespread push on improving mental health in the legal sector. This is indeed good progress as even five years ago this was a fringe campaign. Now it is widely accepted by most law firms that the topic is important and something that employers have a legal duty to manage. Many firms have trained their own Mental Health First Aiders, for example, whose role is to look out for colleagues who may be struggling.